The NSW Government is in the development phase for the State’s first Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in the Central-West Orana region. The Central-West Orana REZ is approximately 20,000 square kilometres centred by Dubbo and Dunedoo, on the land of the Wiradjuri, Wailwan and Kamilaroi people.
- The REZ will initially unlock at least 3 gigawatts of new network capacity by the mid-2020s, enough to power 1.4 million homes.
- New transmission infrastructure will enable generators (such as solar and wind farms) participating in the REZ to export electricity to the rest of the network.
- It is expected to bring up to $10 billion in private investment to the Central-West Orana region by 2030.
- At its peak, this REZ is expected to support around 5,000 construction jobs in the region.
For other facts on how EnergyCo are coordinating REZ delivery across NSW, visit Frequently Asked Questions.
Why the region was chosen
The indicative location of the Central-West Orana REZ was 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, including 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 REZ. Read more about the methodology for refining the geographical area here.
The importance of the Central-West Orana REZ has also been recognised in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO’s) Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP).
The Central-West Orana was the first REZ to be declared in Australia and has enormous potential for the development of solar and wind projects that can contribute energy to the National Electricity Market (NEM), support jobs and drive investment across the regional economy.
Consultation with the community
EnergyCo is committed to working closely with the community as we plan and deliver the Central-West Orana REZ. You can visit Project documents to view the latest community updates, fact sheets, reports and more.
EnergyCo established a community reference group for the Central-West Orana REZ in mid-2022 which aims to provide an open forum for discussion between EnergyCo, the community and key stakeholders about the REZ transmission project and broader REZ issues. To learn more about the Community Reference Group, visit Working with the community.
You can contact us at any time if you have questions or feedback.
Registration of Interest
In June 2020, we received 113 registrations of interest for the Central-West Orana REZ, representing 27 gigawatts of new energy generation and storage projects. This interest from the private sector significantly exceeds the amount of energy required to deliver the REZ. It will help to ensure a competitive tender process and drive improved outcomes for host communities.
For more information, visit Renewable energy generation projects.
The Central-West Orana REZ was formally declared by the Minister for Energy and Environment under section 19(1) of the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 (the Act) and published in the NSW Gazette on 5 November 2021. The declaration is available here.
The REZ declaration is the first step in formalising the REZ under the Act and establishes EnergyCo as the Infrastructure Planner responsible for coordinating the development of the REZ. It also sets out the intended network capacity (size), geographical area (location) and infrastructure that will make up the REZ, and enables and sets the scope of key legislative functions under the Act, including access schemes and REZ network solutions (referred to in the Act as ‘REZ network infrastructure projects’).
The declaration followed an assessment of feedback received during the draft declaration exhibition period from 17 September to 15 October 2021. As all points raised were addressed, no changes were made between the draft and (final) declaration order.
A stylised map of the specified geographical area of the REZ is included above for reference and accessibility purposes only. This stylised map does not form part of the declaration. The stylised map includes the existing 330 kV and 500 kV transmission infrastructure near and in the REZ as a geographical reference. You can also view the declared area in the Project Overview. You can download the GIS file of the Central-West Orana REZ geographical area here.
The Minister may amend the declaration to expand the specified geographical area of the REZ, increase the intended network capacity, specify additional generation, storage and network infrastructure, provide further details and specifications or correct a minor error.
Intended network capacity
The declaration sets out that the Central-West Orana REZ has an intended network capacity of 3 gigawatts. This capacity is indicated in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO’s) Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) and can be increased in the future, if appropriate.
Draft Declaration amendment
The Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) was formally declared in November 2021 following public exhibition and consultation with stakeholders. The declaration includes an initial intended network capacity of 3 gigawatts (GW). Network capacity in a REZ is the maximum amount of power that can be transferred from renewable energy generated and stored within the REZ to the NSW transmission system.
The NSW Network Infrastructure Strategy released by EnergyCo in May 2023 identifies a need to increase network capacity in REZs across the state in response to increasing demand for electricity. The strategy outlines options to increase the network capacity of the Central-West Orana REZ from 3GW up to 4.5GW initially under Stage 1, and around 6GW by 2038 under Stage 2. This supports recent modelling by the Consumer Trustee in its draft 2023 Infrastructure Investment Objectives Report showing more network capacity will be needed to meet NSW’s future energy needs as coal-fired power stations progressively retire.
To align with this, the NSW Government is proposing to amend the Central-West Orana REZ declaration to increase the intended network capacity to 6GW. Importantly, Stage 1 would not change the proposed transmission infrastructure that EnergyCo has been consulting on over the last 2 years. Any future expansions to deliver Stage 2, would be subject to separate planning and regulatory approval processes including detailed community consultation and environmental assessment under the NSW planning system.
Having the right amount of network capacity in the Central-West Orana REZ is critical to deliver the clean, affordable and reliable energy required to meet NSW’s net zero targets.
It will allow the Central-West Orana REZ design to cost-effectively accommodate future expansion and provide flexibility to deliver the right energy system security and reliability measures as we transition our economy away from a reliance on fossil fuels.
The proposed declaration amendment relates to the intended network capacity only and will not impact the geographical size of the REZ, which covers an area of about 20,000 square kilometres around Dubbo.
EnergyCo is inviting communities and stakeholders to comment on the draft declaration amendment for the Central-West Orana REZ. Consultation will close on 4 September 2023. Please send your comments via email to [email protected].
All feedback received during the consultation period will be considered. The final decision will be made by the Minister for Energy and published on EnergyCo’s website.
As the Infrastructure Planner for the REZ, EnergyCo is responsible for ensuring that new network infrastructure is developed to connect the Central-West Orana REZ to the existing grid, delivering affordable electricity to NSW.
To achieve this outcome, EnergyCo will lead the delivery of the Central-West Orana Transmission Project. This process will involve engaging with the local community and key stakeholders, acquiring land and easements required for REZ network infrastructure, developing and overseeing the Environmental Impact Statement processes and running a competitive tender process to appoint a Network Operator to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the REZ network infrastructure.
EnergyCo will continue to work with Transgrid in its capacity as the State’s jurisdictional transmission planner and coordinate the delivery of complementary upgrades to Transgrid’s existing infrastructure network, including critical upgrades to Transgrid’s Wollar substation.
The Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme was formally declared by the Minister for Energy under section 24(1) of the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 on 19 December 2022 and published in the NSW Government Gazette on 23 December 2022. The declaration is available here.
The declaration is the primary statutory instrument for the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme. It operationalises the terms and conditions of the Access Scheme, which sets out how generation and storage projects can be granted access rights to planned and new network infrastructure within the Central-West Orana REZ.