NSW energy roadmap to support development of 12GW, creating ‘energy superpower’

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Image: New South Wales Department of Planning & Environment.

Some 12GW of renewable generation assets and 2GW of energy storage are set to come online in New South Wales (NSW) over the next ten years as part of state government plans to replace an ageing coal fleet and deliver lower electricity prices for consumers.

The Australian state’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, published today, lays out the government’s 20-year plan to deliver renewable energy zones (REZs), energy storage and on-demand supply such as gas and batteries needed to reduce emissions.

As well as cutting red tape and speeding up approvals for transmission infrastructure in REZs, the framework is expected to stimulate AU$32 billion (US$23.3 billion) of private sector investment in electricity infrastructure and create more than 9,000 jobs by 2030. It also includes AU$50 million in grants to support the delivery of pumped hydro projects. 

NSW energy minister Matt Kean said the roadmap aims to take advantage of “some of the best natural resources in the world” and position the state as an “energy superpower”.

Plans for the state’s three REZs were revealed earlier this year, with the first – located in the Central-West and Orana regions – receiving 113 registrations of interest, totalling 27GW, looking to connect to the 3GW zone. The new roadmap is expected to deliver this zone as well as another in the New England region by 2030.

The cheapest prospective sources of generation are large-scale solar and wind located in NSW’s renewables energy zones, the state government said in a report accompanying the new roadmap. As well as capitalising on economies of scale and unlocking generation at lower costs, the REZs are also said to provide opportunities for upfront planning and early community engagement.

The government has called for transmission upgrades in different REZs and across state borders to allow both solar and wind power to be shared across diversified weather systems, so that a surplus in one region can supply a deficit in another.

The development of new clean energy generation is to be sized and timed to replace the closure of four of the state’s five existing coal-fired power stations.

Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, said the infrastructure roadmap sets up NSW “to be Australia's number one destination for renewable energy investment over the coming decade”.

“It will provide tremendous confidence to private investors about when and where new generation is needed, while resolving a number of the key barriers to investment, such as access to the necessary transmission capacity, investment certainty through long-term energy services agreements and addressing slow and costly planning processes.”

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