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Key bottlenecks preventing renewable energy projects from being completed in Western Australia have been identified in a new report prepared for the Australian Energy Council.

Roadblocks including a lack of new electricity transmission planning and investment, along with lengthy, costly and opaque grid connection processes, risk derailing Western Australia’s plans to decarbonise and bring new renewables and dispatchable plants onto the grid according to the report, Bottlenecks affecting generation investment in Western Australia.

To meet the state’s emissions targets and make the transition away from coal-fired plants, the bottlenecks identified in the report will need to be addressed.

The Australian Energy Council – the peak body for energy generators and retailers – commissioned Oakley Greenwood to examine the challenges of getting new generation onto the grid.

Australian Energy Council Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said there is an urgent need for new generation in Western Australia’s grid, but the connection process is long and opaque which creates uncertainty and unnecessary bottlenecks for investors. 

“Investors trying to bring new renewables along with dispatchable projects, like gas plants and batteries, onto the grid have been facing significant hurdles. Those hurdles are making it challenging for new projects to be online in time to meet the state’s ambitious decarbonisation agenda.

“What’s required is a quicker and more transparent grid connection process and a credible transmission plan that won’t be changed or overridden. That will bring certainty for investment.

”Oakley Greenwood identified that the current connection process for new projects can take up to five years and uses a ‘first-in, first-served’ approach, which can create issues.

“The current ‘first-in, first-served’ approach means that the best new projects could be left waiting in the connection queue for years behind other projects that may not be funded or are in areas where new transmission is not planned. Western Power is not obligated to process connection enquiries within defined time frames, with the current arrangement only talking of reasonable timeframes and best endeavours. Ensuring more definitive timeframes can only help,” Ms McNamara said.

The report found that only five per cent of applications make it through to the end of the process.

Reasons for this could include some proponents not intending to proceed with their applications, while genuine applicants give up because they find the process too frustrating, or the lengthy timeframes leading to applicants missing out on the market opportunity that once existed.

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