NSW launches emerging energy program to replace coal generation

The New South Wales Coalition government has launched an ambitious energy transition plan designed to help replace most of the state’s ageing coal plants with wind, solar and storage over the next 15 years.

The Emerging Energy Plan, launched on Wednesday, is designed to support the commercialisation of new large-scale projects in coal power dominated NSW, using emerging, dispatchable technology.

The program will provide up to $10 million in capital funding per project, and up to $500,000 for feasibility studies. The projects must be grid-connected, at least 5MW in size, and provide “emerging and dispatchable” technology.

But it is not the scale of the initiative that is significant, it is the acceptance that the energy transition is profound, rapid and unstoppable.

Also notable is the emissions intensity cap of 0.5 tonnes of Co2-e that has been placed on any eligible projects. It specifically rules out upgrades and extensions of existing plant.

This effectively rules out coal. And while it may allow for some form of gas generation, such projects may struggle to compete with the falling cost of wind and solar and storage.

“This is a very important program launch,” NSW energy minister Don Harwin said at the program’s launch.“It is designed to help support the transition in NSW to a modern and clean energy system and ensure we have access to reliable energy. This change is rapid. Economics and engineering are driving it,” he said, adding that the change was so quick it was outpacing the ability of regulators and policy makers to keep up.

Giles Parkinson