The New South Wales (NSW) government announced on Thursday the registrations of interest (ROI) process for the Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) is open with developers of new wind, solar and energy storage capacity and businesses with large electrical loads urged to register their interest.
The Illawarra REZ, centred around the steel city of Wollongong south of Sydney, is one of five renewable energy zones included in the NSW government’s electricity Roadmap, which is forecast to support more than $32 billion of private investment in renewable energy generation, storage and transmission in the state.
REZs will also be developed in the South-West, Hunter-Central Coast, New England and Central-West Orana regions and are expected to bring 12GW of renewable energy and 2GW of storage online.
That capacity is likely to be revised with the four REZs for which ROIs have so far been requested having been swamped by investors. The Central West Orana REZ drew 27GW of interest when it had planned to coordinate 3GW and the New England REZ attracted 34GW for a proposed 8GW of integrated assets. The Hunter-Central Coast REZ attracted more than 80 clean energy projects totalling almost 40GW while the South-West REZ attracted 34GW of potential generation and storage projects.
The Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo), the government-controlled authority appointed to lead the delivery of the REZs, has not set any targets for the amount of generation and energy storage capacity to be hosted in the Illawarra REZ but said is an ideal location for the development of a renewable energy zone.
“The region already hosts major energy, port and transport infrastructure, has a skilled workforce, has the potential to utilise existing dams for pumped hydro, harness significant offshore wind generation and has strong demand for future hydrogen projects, including for future green steel production,” it said.
EnergyCo said two separate 2GW offshore wind projects have already been proposed off the coast of the Illawarra, which could connect to existing infrastructure to generate affordable, clean and reliable electricity.
Hydrogen projects are also expected to play a significant role in the Illawarra REZ, building on the NSW government’s $70 million commitment to develop hydrogen hubs in the Hunter and Illawarra.
EnergyCo said the ROI is the first step in engaging with industry on the design, location and delivery of the Illawarra REZ which would “support large energy users with cheap, reliable and clean electricity”.
“The Illawarra REZ will ensure the region has a key role in a renewable energy future, powering existing industries and supporting economic growth, including emerging technology in green hydrogen, ammonia and metal production,” it said.
EnergyCo said the ROI would provide vital information for the planning of the Illawarra REZ, including the estimated investment value, location and types of projects looking to connect.
The call for registrations of interest in the Illawarra REZ will close on 22 July, 2022.
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