New South Wales receives 40GW of applications for new renewable energy zone, representing a US$72bn investment

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There has been staggering interest in REZs in Australia, and NSW in particular, with most of them several times oversubscribed. Image Nextracker.

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has received applications for nearly 40GW of renewable generation and storage projects for its planned Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) amid huge interest in clean energy resources in the state.

Commercial interest equating to AU$100 billion (US$71.7 billion) has been registered in 24 solar energy projects, 35 large-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS), eight pumped hydro projects and 20 wind farms, according to a statement by the NSW government.

“Together, these projects have the potential to deliver more than 100,000GWh of renewable energy a year – equivalent to the annual output of up to 10 coal-fired power stations,” the NSW government said.

This latest announcement comes hot on the heels of a tender for NSW’s South-West REZ, which received proposals for more than 34GW of solar, wind and energy storage – more than 10 times the expected capacity of the site.

REZs in Australia, and in particular in NSW, have proven phenomenally popular with solar developers looking to take advantage of the streamlined grid connection process and other purported benefits.

A different NSW tender in August 2021 also attracted 34GW of proposals, being more than four times oversubscribed, and tenders across the Central West Orana, New England and Southwest regions have attracted a combined 95GW of interest.   

“Renewable Energy Zones are vital to ensuring the future reliability and affordability of electricity in NSW as traditional coal-fired power stations close down over the coming decades,” said Australian Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean.

“The REZ will not only attract investment in clean energy, it will also underpin the growth of new low carbon industries such as green hydrogen, ammonia and metals production which the world is going to need as it decarbonises,” said parliamentary secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch.

Member for Upper Hunter, Dave Layzell, said the Hunter-Central Coast region was the “perfect location” for a REZ given its “good renewable energy resources, access to transmission, transport and port infrastructure […] and highly skilled workforce.”

The Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo), a statutory authority controlled by the state government, is in the early stages of planning the Hunter-Central Coast REZ and will be using the information from this tender to inform the timing, capacity and boundaries of the Hunter-Central Coast REZ.

It is expected that the Hunter-Central Coast REZ will be formally declared under the NSW Government’s Electricity Roadmap legislation by mid-2022.

A feature article exploring REZs in Australia and their use in attracting solar investment into the country was included within volume 28 of PV Tech Power and can be read in full here.

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