Renewable Energy Zones
Renewable Energy Zones
The NSW Government’s Electricity Strategy and Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap set out a plan to deliver the state’s first 5 Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) in the 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 over 5000 construction jobs at their peak.
The NSW Government is committed to delivering the best outcomes for all stakeholders.
- Central-West Orana REZ Innovative Network Infrastructure Solutions Submissions open from 27 July to 20 August 2021.
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 Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) is the NSW-Government-controlled statutory authority that will lead the delivery of NSW's REZs.
EnergyCo will coordinate REZ transmission, generation, firming and storage projects to deliver efficient, timely and coordinated investment.
EnergyCo 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.
EnergyCo 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 the technical design of the REZ in consultation with program partners and generators
- promoting local development opportunities, including engaging with local community and industry.
The NSW Government expects that REZs will deliver multiple benefits to 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 REZ in the Central-West Orana region, around Dubbo and Wellington on the land of the Wiradjuri, Wailwan and Kamilaroi people. See 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 3000 megawatts (MW) of new electricity capacity by the mid-2020s, enough to power 1.4 million homes. It is expected to bring up to $5.2 billion in private investment to the Central-West Orana region by 2030. At its peak, this REZ is expected to support around 3900 construction jobs in the region.
The NSW Government chose the Central-West Orana region because the region benefits from relatively low transmission build costs due to its proximity to the existing backbone transmission network. It also has a strong mix of energy resources and there is significant investor interest.
In June 2020, the NSW Government received 113 registrations of interest for the Central-West Orana REZ, representing 27,000 MW of new energy generation and storage projects. This is 9 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 the 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 to be a critical project to address cost, security and reliability issues across the entire National Electricity Market.
Consultation on the Central-West Orana REZ
The NSW Government has started 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 that the REZ complements existing agricultural and primary-land uses, reflects local priorities, and retains existing economic activity and social values within the Central-West Orana region.
We will also work with local stakeholders and program partners to develop community benefit-sharing models that ensure that the REZ’s economic benefits are equitably distributed across communities.
The NSW Government expects 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: see further information for how to get in touch.
Central-West Orana REZ Network Infrastructure
TransGrid, the State’s transmission network planner and operator, is in the early stages of planning the backbone transmission needed for the Central-West Orana REZ. The new transmission infrastructure will enable to generators (such as solar and wind farms) that participate in the 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’.
TransGrid have identified a 180 kilometre long and 3km to 6km wide ‘study corridor’ as a preliminary stage in determining the final location for the new transmission infrastructure. The current study corridor extends from the existing backbone transmission network near Merriwa, west towards Dunedoo and then south towards Wellington and Lake Burrendong.
The final transmission line easements will be either 60m or 80m wide, and will be informed by landowner and community feedback and detailed environmental assessment.
The NSW Government is currently seeking information from proponents of potential innovative network infrastructure solutions, such as technology solutions, at any stage of development that could help optimise the design and performance of the Central-West Orana REZ.
Submissions are open from Tuesday 27 July to Friday 20 August. For further information and to make a submission, please visit our Central-West Orana REZ Innovative Network Infrastructure Solutions consultation web page.
Consultation on the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission study corridor
TransGrid has begun consultation with landowners and local communities in the proposed transmission study corridor. TransGrid is engaging with the community in the very early planning stages of the project so that they can better understand local values and concerns and incorporate this feedback when considering options for the preferred transmission alignment.
The transmission project has been declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure due to its importance to future energy supply and security in NSW. The project will be subject to a rigorous assessment under the applicable NSW and Commonwealth environmental and planning approval pathways and associated regulatory frameworks.
- Map of the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission study corridor.
- The NSW Government's December 2020 project update on the Central-West Orana REZ (PDF 545kB).
- Frequently asked questions: REZs and the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission (PDF 127kB).
- For further information about TransGrid’s consultation on the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission: see TransGrid’s Central-West Orana REZ Transmission webpage 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 REZs, and to realise the objectives of the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap and its 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 that will improve the electricity network's access to energy generation and storage projects, and allow the selling the power they generate to customers
- govern the volume of projects allowed to connect to the REZ and define their rights to access the REZ
- 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 managing generation and storage connections in the REZs, the Access Schemes will enable active coordination of network, generation and storage investment. This will help optimise the network, reducing bills for energy consumers, and improves planning outcomes for local communities.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is committed to delivering the best outcomes for all stakeholders and has recently completed public consultation on the Central West-Orana REZ Access Scheme: see the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zones Access Scheme Issues Paper, March 2021 (PDF 2.93MB) and the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme consultation webpage.
Join our mailing list by sending an email to: REZ [at] planning.nsw.gov.au.
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 REZ will deliver up to 8000 MW of new transmission capacity; see a map of the indicative location of the New England REZ (PDF 2.0MB).
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 has strong investor interest. The NSW Government's 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 invest $78.9 million to support the development of the New England REZ.
To ensure that the REZ delivers meaningful, long-term benefits to local communities, EnergyCo held the first New England REZ Regional Reference Group meeting on 28 April 2021. The meeting brought together regional stakeholders that represent local councils, Aboriginal Land Councils and regional state government agencies.
New England Renewable Energy Zone – Registration of Interest
In June 2021, the NSW Government ran an open registration of interest (ROI) process to seek information from proponents of existing and proposed generation, storage and network infrastructure projects in the New England region.
The ROI is the first step in engaging industry on the New England REZ and will help inform the next stage of design, including crucial input for the REZ’s staged delivery and network design.
The ROI closed on 23 July 2021. EnergyCo is collating and analysing the data provided through the ROI to help inform the REZ technical design, planning, and staging of infrastructure development. EnergyCo will continue to work with network providers, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and project developers in parallel to close consultation with industry and communities to inform a final network design for development.
Information received through the ROI will be considered alongside ongoing consultation with local stakeholders led by EnergyCo. Local and regional consultation has already begun with the first meeting of the New England REZ Regional Reference Group held in April. This is the primary forum for consultation between the Government, project partners and local stakeholders including local councils and aboriginal land councils. It provides local expertise and experience to the project team as the project progresses.
EnergyCo would like to thank all those who made a submission to the New England REZ ROI. To stay up to date with further developments, please subscribe to the REZ mailing list by emailing rez [at] planning.nsw.gov.au.
The NSW Government is in the early stages of planning 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; see a map of the indicative location of the South-West REZ (PDF 1.3MB).
The region is also close to the EnergyConnect project that is proposed by TransGrid (the electricity transmission operator in NSW) and ElectraNet (the 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 hel;p to transport energy from the South-West REZ to energy consumers.
Like all REZs, it will be complex and will take a number of years to design and build. The NSW Government will closely engage with the local community and stakeholders on the design and delivery of this REZ.
The NSW Government is in the early stages of planning REZs in the Hunter-Central Coast and Illawarra regions of NSW, as set out under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020.
Like all REZs, they will be complex and take a number of years to design and build. The NSW Government will closely engage with the local community and stakeholders on the design and delivery of these REZs.