Investors submit 34GW of wind, solar, storage for renewables zone in Australia


From pv magazine Australia

The New South Wales state government in Australia has reported a “huge” response to the registration of interest (ROI) process for the South-West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ). More than 34GW of wind, solar PV and energy storage proposals have been received – more than 10 times the zone’s proposed capacity.

The state government conducted a ROI process in October and November for the South-West REZ, one of five designated clean energy areas detailed in its electricity roadmap, which is expected to support more than AUD 32 billion (USD 22.7 billion) of investment in renewable energy generation, storage and transmission.

The South-West REZ is one of five REZs planned to help replace the state’s aging coal-fired power stations. Four of its five fossil-fueled power plants are expected to close in the next 15 years, starting with the 1,680 MW Liddell Power Station in 2023-24.

REZs will also be developed in the New England, Hunter-Central Coast, Illawarra and Central-West Orana regions and are expected to bring 12GW of renewable energy and 2GW of storage online.

The Central-West Orana REZ, centered on the inland town of Dubbo, was the first of the REZs to be launched with the call for registrations of interest in 2020 attracting 27GW of proposals when it sought 3GW. The ROI process for the New England REZ, based around Armidale, was also flooded with expressions of interest, with investors tabling 34GW of proposals for a likely capacity of 8GW.

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EnergyCo, the statutory authority established by the NSW government to lead the delivery of the state’s REZs, said the capacity of the South-West REZ will be no less than 2.5GW. The area was chosen due to “an abundance of high-quality wind and solar resources, relative land-use compatibility and existing strong investor interest.”

Its proximity to the 900-kilometer EnergyConnect project, an interconnector being built by Transgrid and ElectraNet between the town of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, and Robertstown in South Australia, with a connection to Red Cliffs in Victoria, is also considered key. The project will also upgrade the 330kV transmission line to 500kV between Wagga Wagga and Dinawan, which links to the eastern edge of the REZ.

EnergyCo Chief Executive James Hay said the information provided in the latest ROI process will inform the timing, capacity, design and location of the South-West REZ.

“Through this process, the NSW government will take the important first steps to ensure all voices are heard as this vital piece of clean energy infrastructure is delivered,” he said. “The number of responses to the ROI reflects the strong level of interest in the south-west and helps ensure only the best projects which benefit the community and maximise local renewable jobs and investment in the region will be picked.”

Hay said the South-West REZ is a significant undertaking and will take several years to plan, design and build and will most likely be delivered in stages.

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