June 10, 2022 11:26 am Published by 16,554 Comments

The East Coast Electricity Transmission Boom:
Renewable Energy Zone Development


According to the AEMO’s Integrated System Plan (ISP), distributed energy resources are expected to double or triple by 2040, providing 13-22% of total underlying annual National Energy Market (NEM) energy consumption. It is estimated that more than 26 GW of new Variable Renewable Energy is needed to replace the 63% of Australia’s coal-fired generation set to retire. This means a further 6–19 GW of new dispatchable resources are needed to back up renewables, in the form of utility-scale pumped hydro or battery storage, demand response and distributed batteries participating as virtual power plants.

It is no secret that current grid connection processes are creating substantial uncertainty in timing, technical requirements and cost. Adding to this are the impacts of the current Marginal Loss Factor (MLF) regime, which is no longer fit-for-purpose for a 21st century energy system and causing much concern and unmanageable risk for investors. Both MLFs and grid connection challenges are symptoms of an underlying condition: the urgent need to reform the energy system and to build new transmission to support continued investment in renewable energy and storage projects.

So the question is, how do we move these electrons across an ageing grid that was not designed for intermittent generation?

The solution lies in strategically placed interconnectors and Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), coupled with energy storage to add capacity and balance variable resources across the NEM. Updated power system services are needed to transform a system that has been dominated by traditional thermal generation with large spinning generators. These services span voltage control, system strength, frequency management, power system inertia and dispatchability.

According to the Clean Energy Council’s Clean Energy Australia Report 2022, there is 10,000 km of new transmission needed to connect consumers with diverse generation sources, which equates to a $29 billion net benefit of projects identified by AEMO within the optimal development path. Some of the key projects required to augment the transmission grid include:

  • Far north Queensland REZ
  • Queensland-NSW Interconnector (QNI)
  • New England REZ (NSW)
  • Central-West Orana REZ (NSW)
  • Project EnergyConnect (NSW)
  • HumeLink (NSW)
  • Victoria-NSW Interconnector (VNI)
  • Mid North REZ (SA)
  • South East SA REZ
  • Marinus Link (VIC-TAS)

In support of its 50% emissions reduction target by 2030, the NSW government alone is investing some $380 million over four years to support renewable energy zone development, a significant contributor to the approaching east coast electricity transmission boom that will provide ongoing investment over the next decade but will be challenged by the considerable resource shortage being experienced across the sector.

That’s where ATEC Solutions comes in. We have deep experience in the development and execution of power generation projects and have been involved in several high voltage transmission projects. Our services range from strategic solutions (project strategy, risk evaluation and compliance) to reform (regulatory proposal and support), transactions (due diligence, tender evaluation and contract management) and project delivery (project management, owner’s engineering, commissioning and completion).  Our experts are well poised to continue to provide advisory services, engineering and project management support to large scale organisations positioning themselves to secure work in this burgeoning sector.


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