Western Australia’s main electricity grid is to undergo its biggest upgrade in more than a decade with the state government committing $708 million to ensure the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) can feed the demand and the supply of renewable energy needed to deliver on the state’s 2030 and 2050 emissions targets.
“This investment will ensure the electricity network, one of the world’s largest isolated systems, successfully transitions to an innovative green electricity ecosystem for the future,” government-owned utility Western Power said in a statement, highlighting that the upgrades are essential to enable large-scale renewable energy generation to connect to the grid, for both domestic use and to facilitate new industries like renewable hydrogen.
Western Power said $575 million has been allocated to increase capacity of the network’s northern section. This will involve upgrading the current mix of 132 kV and 330 kV lines to unlock the transmission capacity in the Wheatbelt and Mid-West regions.
A further $133 million will be invested towards planning for new lines, reinforcements and upgrades around key industrial areas, including Kwinana and Collie, as well as upgrades between Geraldton and Perth to support development at Oakajee.
WA Premier Roger Cook said strengthening the northern transmission network is critical to unlocking the state’s renewable energy potential, with modelling indicating a 10‑fold increase in renewable generation may be needed to meet future low-emissions electricity demand.
“Put simply, there is no energy transition without better transmission,” he said. “This is the largest investment in transmission infrastructure in WA in more than 10 years and is an important step on the transformation of our main electricity grid.”
The delivery of new electricity infrastructure will be coordinated by newly established entity PoweringWA. Located within the Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, PoweringWA will be responsible for planning, community consultation, industry liaison and project management.
The funding announcement has been widely welcomed by industry with Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA (CME) Chief Executive Officer Rebecca Tomkinson saying it is a much-needed investment in the state’s renewable energy future.
“We know the demand for reliable energy is increasing and will continue to increase the closer we are to 2030 so it’s a positive step that the WA government has listened and is taking action,” she said. “I think the state government is realistic about the need to exponentially increase production in order to establish our energy transition capability.”
“What we need now is a roadmap that clearly defines the path forward, and more than that, clears the path forward in terms of regulatory approvals, policy stability and efficient processes.”
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