New South Wales opens call for 8GW renewable energy zone

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A 53MW solar plant from utility AGL in New South Wales. Image: AGL Energy.

The New South Wales government has launched a registration of interest process for Australia’s largest renewable energy zone (REZ), which is expected to deliver as much as 8GW of capacity.

Generation, storage and network developers with proposed or operational assets in the state’s New England area have been asked to submit responses, with information from the process to be used to inform the best timing, design and exact location of the zone.

According to the NSW government, which has committed AU$78.9 million (US$60.9 million) to support the development of the REZ, the location selected for the zone benefits from exceptional natural solar and wind resources and is relatively close to existing grid infrastructure.

NSW’s energy and environment minister, Matt Kean, said the New England REZ will deliver AU$10.7 billion in private investment and will be a key part of the state’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, which will see it create five renewable energy zones to replace existing power stations as they retire. With a combined capacity of 12GW, the zones will be in the regions of Central West and Orana, Illawarra, New England, South West and Hunter-Central Coast.

Announced in November, the roadmap is expected to attract up to AU$32 billion of private sector investment in electricity infrastructure and create more than 9,000 jobs by 2030, while helping the state reach its goal of becoming net zero by 2050.

The latest ROI process comes after the state saw a nine-fold oversubscription in interest for its first renewable energy zone last year. The government received 113 registrations of interest, totalling 27GW of capacity, looking to connect to the 3GW zone in the Central West and Orana regions.

Recent developments in New South Wales’s solar sector have seen construction start on the first stage of a 720MW hybrid solar and battery project in the New England region, while French independent power producer Neoen was given the go-ahead in March to develop a 350MW PV plant alongside a 100MW / 200MWh battery energy storage system.

The call for registrations of interest in the New England REZ will close on 16 July 2021.

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