July 10, 2020 Read More →

Australia’s New South Wales set for ‘biggest and quickest’ transition from coal to renewables

Renew Economy:

The New South Wales state government has confirmed it will seek a massive 8,000MW of wind, solar and storage projects in the state’s north, the biggest call for renewables in the country, and setting itself up for what will be the biggest and most rapid transition from coal to renewables in the country, if not the world.

As foreshadowed by Renew Economy on Thursday, state energy minister Matt Kean announced on Friday plans to create an 8,000MW renewable energy zone in the New England region, tapping into the enormous response to the state’s first renewable energy zone (REZ), which saw a phenomenal 27,000MW of wind, solar and storage projects for a region with the capacity of 3,000MW.

“The nine-fold level of interest in the Central-West Orana REZ was astounding, so it makes absolute sense to go even bigger with the New England REZ,” Kean said in the statement on Friday. “The New England REZ will be able to power 3.5 million homes and, when coupled with Central-West Orana REZ, sets the state up to become the number one destination across Australia for renewable energy investment.”

NSW has been a bit of a laggard on renewable energy investment in recent years, although its current pipeline of projects means that it is catching up.  But while it is the only state in the main National Electricity Market (NEM) without a stated renewable energy target, it is headed for the biggest and quickest transition of them all, because the bulk of its ageing coal generators will retire in the next 10-15 years.

This coal capacity will have to be replaced by renewables and storage, which Kean says is clearly the cheapest and best option for the state, one that will give the state the opportunity to become an economic powerhouse as well as a renewable energy powerhouse.

But over the past year, only 16.2 per cent of the state’s electricity demand came from renewables, with a combined 7 per cent from rooftop and large scale solar and 6.3 per cent from wind energy. A further 7.6 per cent came from imports from Queensland and Victoria.

[Giles Parkinson]

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