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.
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.
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.
The Illawarra REZ was formally declared by the Minister for Energy under section 19(1) of the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 (the Act) and published in the NSW Gazette on 27 February 2023. View the Renewable Energy Zone (Illawarra) Declaration Order here.
The REZ declaration is the first step in formalising the REZ under the Act. It sets out the intended network capacity (size), geographical area (location) and infrastructure that will make up the REZ. This enables and sets the scope of key legislative functions under the Act, including access schemes and REZ network solutions.
The declaration also establishes EnergyCo as the Infrastructure Planner responsible for coordinating the development of the REZ. As the Infrastructure Planner for the Illawarra REZ, EnergyCo will work with network operators to deliver any required augmentations to transmission infrastructure to connect renewable generation and storage projects to the grid.
The declaration follows an assessment of feedback received during the draft exhibition held between 23 December 2022 and 6 February 2023. Minor adjustments to the geographical area have been made based on a balanced consideration of feedback.
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. You can download the GIS file of the Illawarra REZ geographical area boundary here.
The Minister may amend the final 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 the intended network capacity for network infrastructure in the Illawarra REZ of 1 gigawatt. 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 emerging industries such as offshore wind, green hydrogen and green steel manufacturing.
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. Interested parties should consult the full text in the 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.
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.