The New South Wales government has quietly made a new commitment to transform the now coal-dependent Hunter Region as a hub of new renewable energy and storage projects as part of its broad and ground-breaking plans to transition the state’s grid from coal to renewables.
AGL's Liddell coal plant in the Hunter region of NSW.
News of the new commitment is contained in the details of the Berejiklian government’s legislated list of renewable energy zones, which already includes the Central West, New England and the south-west regions, and which form the plank of its commitment to build 12GW of new wind and solar, and 2GW of storage – over and above business as usual.
The proposed Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill, that is designed to implement the Berejiklian government’s push for $32 billion in investment in new wind, solar and storage projects over the next decade – is now before parliament, and appears to have broad support of all parties, with the notable exception of One Nation.
The bill will allow the NSW energy minister Matt Kean to declare parts of the state as designated ‘renewable energy zones’ allowing new investments in wind and solar projects to be coordinated alongside new investments in transmission network infrastructure.