Renewable Energy in NSW
The energy sector is undergoing a transformation. The share of renewable energy in our electricity supply mix is growing. Over the past five years the share of wind and solar in the NSW electricity generation mix has tripled. This includes generation from rooftop solar and large scale solar and wind farms. Renewable energy is now the cheapest form of new power generation in Australia, which helps place downward pressure on prices.
At the same time, public awareness about the benefits of renewable energy is rising.
The traditional, one-way energy system, supplied mostly by large, centralised coal and gas-fired power stations, is changing. We are moving towards a two-way energy system. More consumers are installing their own rooftop solar power systems and exporting energy back to the grid. Communities are looking to new local renewable energy technologies and models, like trading energy and sharing solar energy with their neighbours, which can help reduce energy bills and stabilise the grid. Electric vehicles – which both use and store energy – are becoming increasingly common.
As more renewable energy comes online, the challenge will be to provide an electricity supply that is affordable, secure and reliable. The grid will need more ‘dispatchable’ generation and energy storage, such as pumped hydro energy and batteries. This will help to make sure supply is available when it is needed. Managing demand by identifying non-critical uses will also smooth peaks in energy demand.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy comes from natural resources like sunlight, wind, waves, biomass, water and heat from the Earth. From the late 19th century, we have been developing technologies to harness these sustainable, inexhaustible and clean energy sources to generate electricity.
Since 2012, more than 550 megawatts of wind capacity and more than 1,400 megawatts of solar capacity have been installed in NSW. This includes both solar PV on NSW rooftops and large scale solar farms.
- Total generation small and large-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems doubled from 2015 to 2017
- Wind generation increased 12% from 2015-2017
NSW households and businesses are seeing the benefits of producing their own energy. As of March 2018, around 410,000 NSW households and small businesses have installed small-scale solar, which is equivalent to around one in six houses in NSW.
- Growth in Solar PV
- Capacity in NSW (including ACT)
This growth in renewable energy has been assisted by the government’s Renewable Energy Action Plan. Launched in 2013, the Plan was designed to increase renewable energy at least cost to the energy consumer and with maximum benefits to NSW.
The NSW Government is committed to ensuring an orderly transition to reliable, affordable and modern energy future for NSW households and businesses
Some of these projects, such as Snowy 2.0, include proposals for energy storage and dispatchable supply, which can provide energy on demand for when households and businesses need it.
The NSW Government is also unlocking opportunities for more private-sector investment in renewable energy and dispatchable supply to ensure adequate supplies well into the future.
To support the transition to modern energy future, the government has:
- Signed the government’s first major direct renewable energy purchasing agreement with the Dubbo Solar Farm.
- Signed a second agreement with the Beryl Solar Farm to offset operations from the Sydney Metro North-west rail project.
- Released it’s vision for new Energy Zones in the state’s New England, Central-West and South-West regions in a public submission on the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan.
- Announced the development of a NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy which will enhance and build on the AEMO Integrated System Plan
- Announced an Expression of Interest process with WaterNSW for proposals from the private sector on using the state’s water assets for new energy and storage projects.