The Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap
Four of NSW’s five existing coal-fired power stations are closing in the next 10 to 15 years. This represents approximately three quarters of our electricity supply.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has confirmed that firmed renewables are the cheapest way for us to replace this generation.
The Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap (the Roadmap) is designed to deliver 12 GW of renewable energy generation and 2 GW of long duration storage by 2030 to maintain energy reliability in NSW.
The type and number of renewable energy projects to be developed in the Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) will be determined through the competitive tender processes for access rights and Long-Term Energy Service Agreements which are being conducted by the Consumer Trustee.
All renewable energy projects in REZs will also require planning approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 before they are allowed to proceed. The planning process includes detailed impact assessment and extensive community consultation in accordance with a range of NSW Government guidelines and policies.
The Roadmap will more than deliver this amount.
Learn more about the Roadmap here.
REZs are modern-day power stations that combine:
- new renewable energy infrastructure, including generators (such as solar and wind farms)
- storage (such as batteries and pumped hydro)
- high-voltage transmission infrastructure.
By connecting multiple varied renewable energy projects and electricity storage, these REZs capitalise on economies of scale to deliver cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable electricity for homes and businesses in NSW.
The Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap is technology neutral and all generation and storage projects that wish to connect to REZ network infrastructure will need to apply for an access right through a competitive tender with the Consumer Trustee. Access right holders will be charged access fees that include components to fund community benefit and employment programs.
Learn more about Access Schemes here.
EnergyCo is working with key stakeholders, including local councils and distribution network providers to develop opportunities to improve energy connectivity and affordability for consumers in the REZs, such as community batteries to reduce electricity costs for local residents and power purchase agreements to assist local businesses and organisations in the REZs to decarbonise and reduce energy costs.
The Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap has been developed to ensure that all energy consumers in NSW have access to cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy into the future.
EnergyCo is working with key stakeholders, including local councils and distribution network providers to develop opportunities to improve energy connectivity and affordability for consumers in the REZs.
EnergyCo is also working with local councils and communities to modernise infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications, waste management, training as well as develop additional accommodation where needed. This, along with the addition of jobs, will drive investment in REZ communities to ensure shared benefits in the long term.
Renewable Energy Zones
The indicative REZ locations were chosen following a detailed Statewide geospatial mapping exercise undertaken by the NSW Government in 2018.
This initial analysis sought to identify optimal locations to host renewable energy generation around the State. This included areas with strong renewable energy resource potential, proximity to the existing electricity network, and consideration of potential interactions with existing land uses, including agricultural lands and biodiversity conservation.
Since then, EnergyCo has worked through a process to refine the geographical area of the REZs, including public exhibition and feedback on the proposed REZ areas prior to formal declaration.
You can learn more about each of these areas by visiting Renewable Energy Zones.
EnergyCo is considering a number of important factors to determine the locations for the REZs and associated REZ infrastructure, including natural disasters (e.g. bushfire or flood prone land).
When determining the design of REZ network infrastructure, EnergyCo will review natural disasters in the area and develop solutions which meet engineering operational requirements while mitigating impacts to communities and the environment.
EnergyCo is leading the delivery of the State’s first five REZs and critical energy infrastructure, which will underpin the transformation of our energy system to deliver cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity for NSW consumers.
In September 2022, EnergyCo publicly displayed the Draft Network Infrastructure Strategy for NSW.
The Draft NIS provides further information about the delivery and coordination of NSW REZ transmission network infrastructure, downstream network augmentations and network connections for large-scale renewable energy and storage projects.
Feedback received during consultation will be used to help shape the final NIS which is expected to be released in early 2023.
Read the Draft NIS here.
To support the livelihoods of REZ communities a Renewable Energy Sector Board has been established to oversee the operation of the renewable energy sector, and the manufacture and construction of infrastructure in the sector.
The Board recently developed a plan to maximise the use of locally produced and supplied goods and services, employment of suitably qualified local workers and opportunities for apprentices and trainees in the renewable energy sector. The plan must also protect the financial interests of NSW electricity customers and be consistent with Australia’s international trade obligations.
First Nations guidelines have been developed to ensure that the economic benefits of the energy transition under the Roadmap are shared with local Aboriginal businesses and communities and provide support for Aboriginal people and communities to build skills and capacity to take advantages of opportunities into the future. Learn more about the guidelines here.
Additionally, communities and consumers will benefit from the NSW Government’s Strategic Benefit Payments Scheme (SBP Scheme) for new major transmission projects in NSW.
Under the SBP Scheme, private landowners in NSW will receive annual payments for hosting certain transmission infrastructure on their land. Learn more about the SBP Scheme here.
The NSW Government has set a clear and consistent policy framework for coal exploration and mining in NSW that supports investment certainty as the coal mining sector responds to global demand, while helping regional communities to manage the effects of an expected decline in thermal coal mining in the State over the longer term.
The Strategic Statement on Coal Exploration and Mining in NSW sets out the NSW Government’s approach.
It took 30 years to build NSW’s existing fleet of coal-fired generation. Four out of five of these plants need to be replaced in less than 15 years.
Given the growing risk of failure as plants age, it might be even sooner.
Through early and careful planning now there will be the time needed to build a modern energy grid at the lowest cost in places that work for our regional and rural communities.
NSW needs to replace the electricity supplied from four coal-fired generation plants that are scheduled to close over the next 15 years.
These plants currently make up about three quarters of our annual electricity generation in NSW. The NSW Government has introduced the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap that will modernise our electricity system and set up our economy to be even more globally competitive.
The Roadmap will deliver at least 12 GW of renewable energy and 2 GW of long duration storage by 2030 in five REZs across NSW.
REZs are modern-day power stations, combining generation, transmission, storage and system strength services to ensure a secure, affordable and reliable energy system.
Learn more about the Roadmap here.
EnergyCo is committed to taking a socially, culturally, and environmentally respectful approach to the transformation of NSW’s energy system.
Delivering the REZs in a way that reduces social impacts and provides community benefits is made possible through maintaining an open dialogue with communities and stakeholders.
EnergyCo also recognises the need to balance the competing views of different stakeholder groups and manage the compatibility of land uses throughout this process. This includes delivering transparent and timely engagement activities to keep people informed about the activities that affect them.
These approaches reflect the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020’s recognition of the importance of maintaining social licence to build and operate transmission infrastructure in NSW.
EnergyCo has been engaging with REZ communities to understand local priorities and inform whole-of-REZ planning that seeks to balance generation, social, environmental, and other land use considerations.
This engagement has helped identify and shape a range of technical studies to investigate the cumulative impacts and demands of projects, and identify strategic opportunities to value stack investments, minimise disruption and optimise outcomes for local communities. These include:
- workforce accommodation
- training and skills development
- roads and traffic management
- telecommunication improvements
- waste management.
The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has published the Large-Scale Solar Energy Guideline and Wind Energy Guideline to provide community, industry and regulators with information and certainty on the planning rules for large-scale renewable energy projects.
Read more about these guidelines on the DPE website.