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Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone

Introduction

EnergyCo is also in the early stages of planning for a Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), as set out under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020, in the Illawarra region of NSW. The Illawarra REZ is located on the land of the Dharawal people.

 

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Why the region was chosen

The Illawarra region contains unique features that make it an ideal location for a REZ. The region already hosts major energy, port and transport infrastructure, has a skilled workforce, has the potential to harness significant offshore wind generation and has strong demand for future hydrogen projects, including for future green steel production.

The Illawarra REZ will help strengthen the region’s economy and support jobs for decades. Like the Hunter-Central Coast, the Illawarra is vulnerable to fluctuations in demand for coal exports, and the REZ will help local industry adapt and build resilience in the regional economy.

Beginning in 2022, EnergyCo undertook a geospatial mapping analysis investigation of the Illawarra region to identify a nominal boundary for the REZ. Read more here about the methodology for defining the geographical area. You can view a map of the geographical area of the REZ in Schedule 1 of the draft declaration here.

Consultation with the community

Like all REZs, designing and building the Illawarra REZ will be complex and take some years to achieve. EnergyCo will engage closely with local community, industry, local government and other stakeholders as the design and delivery of the REZ progresses.

Registration of Interest (ROI)

Between 9 June and 22 July 2022, EnergyCo ran a Registration of Interest (ROI) process for the Illawarra REZ. This was the first step in engaging with industry on the design of the REZ.

The Illawarra REZ ROI attracted a significant response with over $43 billion in potential investment. 44 projects were registered, potentially delivering over 17 gigawatts of generation and storage capacity.

In summary, industry interest has been registered in:

  • 10 wind generation projects with 8 located offshore,
  • 5 solar projects,
  • 16 energy storage projects including 11 batteries,
  • 4 pumped hydro projects,
  • 4 hydrogen production and 2 hydrogen electricity generation projects, and
  • 3 new load projects including green steel manufacturing.

As the results above show, the Illawarra REZ will underpin the growth of new low carbon industries which could service both domestic and export markets as the world decarbonises and shifts towards green manufacturing.

Illawarra REZ fact sheet.

Declaration

The NSW Government has begun the process for declaring the Illawarra REZ.

The REZ declaration is the first step in formalising the REZ under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 (the Act). It sets out the intended network capacity (size), geographical area (location) and infrastructure that will make up the REZ. The declaration will also note that EnergyCo will be the Infrastructure Planner for the Illawarra REZ.

EnergyCo prepared the draft declaration in a way that considers local priorities and values, land-use planning, investor interest and legislative requirements.

A stylised map of the draft geographical area of the REZ is included above for reference. It includes the existing 132 kV and 330 kV transmission infrastructure near and in the REZ as a geographical reference.

The draft declaration is on exhibition for public feedback until Monday 6 February 2023. It is not a declaration under the Act and has no legal effect. The final declaration will be made by the Minister for Energy under section 19(1) of the Act and be published in the NSW Gazette.

Once the final declaration is made, the Minister may amend it 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. 

Learn more about the draft declaration here.

Intended network capacity (size)

The draft declaration sets out the intended network capacity for network infrastructure in the Illawarra REZ of 1 gigawatt (GW). This will provide sufficient transfer capacity for existing and committed generation in Southern NSW and the Illawarra to dispatch into the electricity grid.

Importantly, the capacity of the Illawarra REZ may increase over time with the growth of offshore wind and other emerging technologies.

Network infrastructure

We have consulted with network planners, including the Australian Energy Market Operator to specify the network infrastructure that makes up the REZ.

In summary, this is:

  • Planned, new and existing network infrastructure in the specified geographical area.

The above is a summary only. Interested parties should consult the full text in the draft declaration.

Further specified network, generation and storage infrastructure may be added to the declaration later. EnergyCo will update this website as further information and engagement opportunities become available.

Next steps

The NSW Government will review feedback received during the exhibition period before the Minister declares the Illawarra REZ. The Minister may decide to make the final declaration different to the draft declaration.

EnergyCo will continue to engage closely with the local community, industry, local government and other stakeholders as the design and delivery of the REZ progresses.