NSW to fast-track renewable energy zones with US$856m grid investment

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The policy is expected to drive at least AU$14 billion in private transmission infrastructure investment. Image: C-Crete Technologies.

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) will invest AU$1.2 billion (US$856 million) in new transmission lines and infrastructure over the next ten years to accelerate the connection of planned renewable energy zones (REZs).

The Transmission Acceleration Facility will drive at least AU$14 billion in private transmission infrastructure investment, according to NSW treasurer Matt Kean.

“Energy prices are up because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and unplanned outages at coal-fired power stations. Fast-tracking the construction of renewable energy is the best way to reduce our exposure to these risks and take advantage of cleaner, cheaper power sources,” he said.

There are more than 50 large-scale renewables projects totalling around 16GW of capacity currently progressing through the NSW planning system, however many may never proceed without additional transmission lines, the state government said.

The Transmission Acceleration Facility will be included in NSW’s 2022-23 budget, due to be delivered on 21 June.

The first project to benefit from the facility will be the Waratah Super Battery, a 700MW/1,400MWh battery energy storage system designed to alleviate transmission line constraints, as reported by sister site Energy-Storage.news.

Welcoming today’s announcement, renewables association the Clean Energy Council said industry has identified transmission investment as one of the key barriers to accelerating the deployment of renewable energy in Australia.

“Getting transmission right is crucial in providing developers with the certainty they need to begin making the considerable investments in renewable energy and storage required to decarbonise our electricity system,” said the council’s director of external affairs, Arron Wood.

The NSW government earlier this week opened the registration of interest process for its Illawarra REZ, inviting project developers and businesses with large electrical loads to participate.

Illawarra is one of five REZs totalling 12GW of capacity that NSW is planning to create as part of the state’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap. The four other zones are planned for the regions of Central-West and OranaNew EnglandSouth-West and Hunter-Central Coast, with each receiving an overwhelming level of interest from developers.

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