Renewable Energy Zones
The NSW Government’s Electricity Strategy and Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap set out a plan to deliver the State’s first five Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) in the State’s Central-West Orana, New England, South-West, Hunter-Central Coast and Illawarra regions. This builds on the NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy and supports the implementation of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan.
These REZs will play a vital role in delivering affordable, reliable energy generation to help replace the State’s existing power stations as they come to their scheduled end of operational life.
The Central-West Orana, New England and South-West REZs will unlock a significant pipeline of large-scale renewable energy and storage projects, while supporting up to $20.7 billion of private sector investment in our regions and an over 5,000 construction jobs at their peak.
Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) are modern-day power stations. They combine renewable energy generation such as wind and solar, storage such as batteries, and high-voltage poles and wires to deliver energy to the homes, businesses and industries that need it.
By connecting multiple generators and storage in the same location, REZs capitalise on economies of scale to deliver cheap, reliable and clean electricity for homes and businesses in NSW.
The Government-controlled statutory authority the Energy Corporation of NSW (the Energy Corporation) will lead the delivery of NSW REZs.
The Energy Corporation will coordinate REZ transmission, generation, firming and storage projects to deliver efficient, timely and coordinated investment.
The Energy Corporation will take a holistic view of REZ planning and consultation and will work with communities to ensure the benefits of investment are equitably shared within host regions.
The Energy Corporation will have a number of key functions, including:
- Leading community and stakeholder engagement
- Contributing to strategic, holistic planning for each REZ
- Administering an access framework for the REZ that delivers benefit to generators
- Administering a competitive process to coordinate generation in the REZ
- Coordinating technical design of the REZ in consultation with program partners and generators
- Promoting local development opportunities, engaging with local community and industry.
The Renewable Energy Zones are expected to deliver multiple benefits for NSW, including:
- more reliable energy from significant amounts of new energy supply
- energy bill savings from reduced wholesale electricity costs
- emissions reduction from a cleaner energy sector
- community partnership from strategic planning and best practice engagement and benefit sharing.
The NSW Government is in the planning stage for the State’s first pilot REZ in the Central-West Orana region around Dubbo and Wellington on the land of the Wiradjuri, Wailwan and Kamilaroi people. View an indicative location of the Central-West Orana REZ.
The REZ is expected to be shovel-ready by the end of 2022 and unlock up to 3,000 megawatts (MW) of new electricity capacity by the mid-2020s, bringing up to $5.2 billion in private investment to the Central-West Orana region by 2030. This is enough new capacity to power around 1.4 million homes. This REZ is expected to support around 3,900 construction jobs in the Central-West Orana region at its peak.
The Central-West Orana region was chosen for the pilot because it benefits from relatively low transmission build costs due to its proximity to the existing backbone transmission network, a strong mix of energy resources and significant investor interest.
In June 2020, 27,000 MW of new energy generation and storage projects responded to a registration of interest on the Central-West Orana REZ - nine times the amount required to deliver the REZ.
In June 2020, the NSW Government also announced an additional investment of $31.6 million to support the development of the Central-West Orana REZ. This is on top of the $9 million announced in late 2019 and brings the State’s commitment to Central-West Orana REZ to over $40 million.
The importance of the Central-West Orana REZ was recognised in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2020 Integrated System Plan as an ‘actionable’ transmission project. This means it is deemed a critical project to address cost, security and reliability issues across the entire National Electricity Market.
Central-West Orana REZ Transmission
The NSW Government is working with TransGrid, the State’s transmission network planner and operator, to design and develop new shared transmission infrastructure that will enable generators participating in the Central-West Orana REZ to export electricity to the rest of the network. This new shared transmission infrastructure is referred to as the ‘Central-West Orana REZ Transmission’.
The NSW Government has been working closely with TransGrid to identify a study corridor for a potential route for the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission. This process has involved detailed assessment of numerous environmental, technical, social and economic factors – including the presence of agricultural and bushfire prone land, to identify a study corridor that is generally between 3km-6km wide and approximately 180km long.
TransGrid has also conducted initial field verification activities to validate initial desktop analysis and better understand the characteristics of the local region.
The final transmission line easements will be either 60m or 80m wide and will be informed by extensive consultation with the local community, local stakeholders and detailed environmental assessment.
View a map of the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission study corridor.
Consultation on the Central-West Orana REZ
The NSW Government will soon commence ongoing on-the-ground consultation with local communities and regional stakeholders in the Central-West Orana REZ. This consultation will help inform coordinated strategic planning to ensure the REZ complements existing agriculture and primary land uses, reflects local priorities, and retains existing economic activity and social values within the Central-West Orana region.
We are working with local stakeholders and program partners to develop community benefit sharing models that ensure the economic benefits of the REZ are equitably distributed across communities.
The NSW Government is expected to run a competitive process in 2021-22 to determine which generation and storage projects will connect to the REZ. We will work closely with local councils, communities and other regional stakeholders over the coming years as the REZ progresses to construction and operation.
Your feedback is crucial to ensure the REZ delivers meaningful, long term benefits to regional communities. Please see the further information tab below for ways you can get in touch with the Government’s REZ team.
Consultation on the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission study corridor
The design and development of the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission is in its early stages and will be subject to applicable NSW and Commonwealth environmental approval and assessment requirements.
TransGrid will begin consulting landowners located in and near the study corridor as well as the wider community and hold community information sessions in the coming months to better understand local priorities and concerns.
Feedback received will help the Government and TransGrid plan the preferred transmission route in a way that minimises impacts to the region and maximises opportunities for local benefits. For further information about TransGrid’s consultation on the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission, visit TransGrid’s website transgrid.com.au/centralwestorana or contact TransGrid at cwo [at] transgrid.com.au or on 1800 313 212 (toll free number).
Access Schemes are a key part of the NSW Government’s work to coordinate and encourage investment in Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) and realise the objectives of the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap and enabling legislation. The Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme will be the first of its kind in the National Electricity Market.
REZ Access Schemes will enable planned connections to improve access of energy generation and storage projects to the electricity network and to sell the power they generate to customers. The schemes will govern the volume of projects allowed to connect to the REZ and define their rights to access the REZ. The schemes will enable investment in new, low-cost generation and storage projects in REZs by reducing the risk and uncertainty under the current ‘open access’ regime throughout the National Electricity Market.
By controlling generation and storage connection in REZs, the Access Schemes will enable active coordination of network, generation and storage investment. This helps optimise the network, reducing bills for energy consumers, and improves planning outcomes for local communities.
The Department is committed to delivering the best outcomes for all stakeholders and has prepared an issues paper for advice on the Access Scheme for the Central West-Orana REZ. See Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Consultation for more information on the issues paper, registration for our public webinar and opportunities to have your say.
The NSW Government is in the early stages of planning a REZ in the New England region around Armidale on the lands of the Biripi, Dainggatti, Nganyaywana, Ngarabal, and Gumbainggir people. This will deliver up to 8,000 MW of new transmission capacity. View an indicative location of the New England REZ.
New England has some of the best natural energy resources in the country and some of the State’s finest potential sites for pumped-hydro development and strong investor interest. The NSW Government Emerging Energy Program has recently awarded pre-investment funding to several pumped hydro projects in the New England region, including the critical State Significant Infrastructure Oven Mountain Pumped Hydro project.
The region is also close to the existing high voltage power lines that connect the NSW east coast and Queensland. This provides opportunities to increase NSW’s own energy resilience and to export excess energy to Queensland. The NSW Government has committed to investing $78.9 million to support development of the New England REZ.
The NSW Government is in the early stages of planning for a REZ in the South-West region of NSW around Hay on the lands of the Wiradjuri, Yorta Yorta, Baraba Baraba, Wemba Wemba, Wadi Wadi, Madi Madi, Nari Nari, and Yitha Yitha people. View a map of the indicative location of the South-West REZ.
The region is also close the EnergyConnect project proposed by TransGrid (electricity transmission operator in NSW) and ElectraNet (electricity transmission operator in South Australia (SA)). EnergyConnect is a proposed new high voltage interconnector between NSW and SA that would link the SA and NSW markets and assist in transporting energy from the South-West REZ to energy consumers.
Like all REZs, designing and building the South-West REZ will be complex, taking a number of years to design and build. The NSW Government will engage closely with the local community and stakeholders on the design and delivery of these REZs.
The NSW Government is in the early stages of planning for REZs in the Hunter-Central Coast and Illawarra regions of NSW, as set out under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020.
Like all REZs, developing the Hunter-Central Coast and Illawarra REZs will be complex, taking a number of years to design and build. The NSW Government will engage closely with the local community and stakeholders on the design and delivery of these REZs.