The New South Wales Government has launched a new Transmission Infrastructure Strategy that is designed to create a grid of the future powered by alternate technologies.

The strategy sets out a plan to build a NSW network that delivers reliable, affordable energy for NSW. The NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy is the NSW Government’s plan to unlock private sector investment in priority energy infrastructure projects, which can deliver least-cost energy to customers to 2040 and beyond.

The transmission strategy will focus on three key actions:

  • Support TransGrid to bring forward important early planning and feasibility work on four priority projects to improve connections between states and unlock more power from the Snowy Scheme
  • Increase NSW energy capacity with three key energy zones in the Central West, South West and New England regions
  • Work with other states and regulators to streamline regulation and improve investment conditions

The four priority transmission projects that will help access existing cheap energy supply in other states and from the Snowy region are:

  • Upgrade the existing Victoria-NSW Interconnector by 2022
    • 70MW additional cheap energy supply from Victoria
    • Capital cost of $35 million
  • Upgrade the Queensland-NSW Interconnector by 2022
    • 190MW additional cheap energy supply from Queensland
    • Capital cost of $142 million
    • Help transport energy from the New England Energy Zone to major demand centres
  • A new South Australia-NSW Interconnector from Robertstown in SA to Wagga Wagga, NSW by 2023
    • Up to 750MW cheap energy supply from South Australia
    • Capital cost of $1.28 billion
    • Help transport energy from the South-West Energy Zone to major demand centres
  • New transmission from Snowy Hydro to Bannaby, via Wagga Wagga by 2024
    • Unlock at least 500MW existing energy supply from Snowy Hydro
    • Increases to up to 2,600MW once Snowy Hydro 2.0 is complete
    • Capital cost of $1.15 billion
    • Acceleration support contingent on favourable final investment decision for Snowy 2.0

The Transmission Infrastructure Strategy will accelerate projects by 6-9 months and unlock up to 3,200MW of cheaper energy supply, with around 1,100MW firm supply available to meet peak demand, before 2025.

The strategy overview says the interconnection projects more than pay for themselves by enabling efficient investment and use of generation and storage with an overall benefit of $1.2 billion across the NEM.

NSW Minister for Energy, Don Harwin, said the Transmission Infrastructure Strategy is about NSW focusing on overcoming the long term barriers to reliability and lower prices.

“The energy market is changing fast and in NSW we are focused on building a network that can connect the flood of new capacity coming online,” said Mr Harwin.

“Whether its pumped hydro, wind, solar, gas or coal – industry simply won’t invest if they can’t connect.

“There are $27 billion of new energy projects in the NSW pipeline totaling 20,000 megawatts. However, for every 20 projects looking to connect only one can – it’s time to change that.

“This strategy will prepare NSW for the next-generation energy system and reduce customer bills.”

The three new energy zones in the Central West, South West and New England regions of NSW will also become a focus for new energy generation, bringing major investment opportunities into regional economies.

The strategy follows the recent announcement of the $55 million Emerging Energy Program which supports the commercialisation of large-scale projects that use emerging dispatchable technology including solar, batteries and pumped hydro.

Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the NSW plan was a vital step towards a more integrated energy system that would deliver greater benefit to customers through a more resilient grid and more competitive wholesale markets.

“Around the world, modern energy systems are responding to more variable renewable generation by ensuring greater connection between generation sources and customers,” Mr Dillon said.

“NSW sits at the centre of the National Electricity Market (NEM) and is critical to the development of a more connected energy future.

“Fast-tracking the four key projects outlined in the strategy will bolster the grid’s capacity and put downwards pressure on prices – a priority for network businesses across Australia.”

Mr Dillon said the sequential nature of current regulatory arrangements was slow and unsuited to the transformation underway in electricity generation.

“By providing a funding guarantee for preliminary planning work, the NSW Government can fast-track priority projects while ensuring projects will only proceed where the benefits for consumers clearly outweigh the costs,” he said.

“Networks want to keep costs as low as possible while ensuring new renewable generation can be reliably integrated into our grid. The NSW plan will help achieve this.”

For more information on the NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, visit https://energy.nsw.gov.au/renewables/emerging-energy/energy-zones

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