Access applications ‘officially open’ for Central-West Orana REZ


Developers of renewable energy generation and storage projects wishing to connect to transmission infrastructure in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (NSW) can now apply for access with the New South Wales (NSW) government announcing that the process is “officially open.”

EnergyCo, which has been tasked with implementing the state government’s renewable energy zones, said projects can now start making submissions for the initial tranche of access rights.

Those access rights will allow holders to apply to connect an approved project to the network and send out generation up to its allocated maximum capacity.

EnergyCo said the access scheme will enable generators such as solar and wind farms and energy storage providers in the REZ to connect to the electricity grid at a scale never seen before.

The Central-West Orana REZ has an intended network capacity of 6 GW, with 4.5 GW of new capacity expected to be added in the late 2020s. The initial network capacity of the transmission infrastructure is expected to be capable of connecting at least 3 GW of renewable energy generated by wind and solar projects, as well as another 2 GW of firming storage.

EnergyCo said the access rights application process will be conducted over two stages with eligibility submissions to close on 29 April 2024. Merit submissions will then close on 24 May 2024 with access rights to be allocated to “projects with a high likelihood of achieving financial investment decisions and commercial operations.”

The initial tranche of access rights is expected to be allocated by August 2024, ahead of the financial close of the Central-West Orana REZ network project, which is scheduled for the second half of 2024.

EnergyCo said this will enable projects to be built alongside the core network infrastructure to connect new renewable energy projects supplying electricity to consumers faster.

The Central West Orana REZ encompasses an area of about 20,000 km2 around Dubbo.

One of five designated clean energy zones detailed in the NSW government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, the Central-West Orana REZ is expected to generate up to $10 billion (USD 6.47 billion) in private investment in the region by 2030 and at its peak support around 5,000 construction jobs.

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