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NSW stuns with 34GW of wind, solar proposals for New England renewable zone

A call for expressions of interest to build out the New England renewable energy zone in northern New South Wales has been “swamped” by 34 gigawatts of proposed projects – more than four times the capacity needed for the planned 8GW zone.

The New England REZ, based around Armidale, is one of at least five renewable energy zones planned by the NSW Liberal government to replace its ageing coal fleet, most of which is expected to retire in the next 10 years.

State energy minister Matt Kean said the EOI attracted more than 80 registrations of interest, which showed huge investor confidence in the state’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap.

“The overwhelming response shows this is a once in a generation opportunity to attract enormous investment into regional areas, cementing NSW’s renewable energy future,” Kean said.

The minister said the REZ was expected to deliver around $10.7 billion in investment and around 830 operational jobs, as well as 1,250 construction jobs each year, while also pushing down electricity prices and providing landowners with alternative income streams.

While the New England REZ is the biggest in the state, the Central West Orana zone, located around Dubbo and Wellington, attracted an equally impressive response of 27GW wind, solar and storage proposals for just 3GW of capacity in its EOI last year.

NSW is also looking at REZs in the Hunter and Illawarra regions, and in the south-west of the state. Formal auctions of capacity and positions in the state’s various renewable energy zones will begin in 2022.