NSW’s New England renewable energy zone sparks flurry of interest

The New England renewable energy zone has drawn a flood of prospective investors with more than 80 projects offering to build about 34 gigawatts of new solar and wind farms in NSW.

The response was more than four times the 8 gigawatts of capacity on offer for the so-called REZ, one of three specially designated areas in the state for new clean energy projects.

A solar farm near Gunnedah, NSW. Investments in clean energy are rapidly increasing.Credit:Bloomberg

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said the response indicated strong investor support for the state’s electricity infrastructure road map, that was legislated late last year.

“The New England REZ is expected to deliver around $10.7 billion in investment and around 830 operational jobs, as well as 1250 construction jobs each year, all while putting downward pressure on electricity prices and providing landowners with new income streams,” Mr Kean said.

Adam Marshall, the Agriculture Minister and member for Northern Tablelands welcomed the interest and said the local community would be “in the box seat” for determining the final design and planning of the zone.

“With this level of interest, we have the luxury of supporting only the best projects that benefit the community, maintain the highest and strictest development standards and maximise local renewable jobs and investment in the region,” he said.

Investment in renewable energy will be crucial for adding new generation capacity in time for the staggered closer of ageing coal-fired power stations in NSW and other states.

Which projects get the go-ahead will ultimately be determined through a competitive tender. The newly created EnergyCo is analysing the data to inform the next steps of the REZ roll out, including the first auctions for renewable energy projects across NSW in 2022, the government said.

The 2021-22 NSW budget set aside $380 million to deliver the energy road map, building on the $79 million the government had already committed to deliver the New England REZ.

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