NSW renewable energy zone gets the go-ahead


Wednesday, 03 July, 2024

NSW renewable energy zone gets the go-ahead

The NSW Government has granted planning approval to the West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) transmission project, paving the way for the construction of essential transmission infrastructure to connect large-scale solar, wind and energy storage projects to the electricity grid.

The Central-West Orana REZ is approximately 20,000 km2 and takes in cities and towns including Dubbo, Dunedoo and Mudgee.

“This is the first REZ Transmission Project in the country to obtain planning approval, paving the way for a significant boost in renewable energy generation to replace aging coal-fired power stations,” said Minister for Climate Change and Energy Penny Sharpe.

“It’s not just about clean energy. This project will bring long-term financial benefits to both NSW electricity consumers and the local communities which will host the Central-West Orana REZ,” Sharpe said.

The project is a key initiative under the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap to provide clean, affordable and reliable energy to households and businesses across the state. It is expected to deliver at least 4.5 GW of transmitted electricity — the equivalent of powering 1.8 million homes.

With the aim of attracting up to $20 billion in private investment in solar, wind and energy storage projects, the project will potentially support about 5000 jobs during peak construction.

The environmental impact statement for the REZ was exhibited in late 2023 and included measures to avoid, minimise or mitigate potential environmental and community impacts. With extensive community and stakeholder engagement informing a number of key changes to the project, the NSW Government assigned nearly 100 approval conditions in order to proceed with planning approval.

Financial close for the project is scheduled for the second half of 2024. Construction works are expected from late 2024, with initial operation anticipated in 2028.

Sharpe said the Minns government would continue to work closely with communities, the Australian Government and the preferred network operator to finalise the project.

More information is available here.

Image caption: Aerial view of Dubbo. Image credit: iStock.com/zetter

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