ACEREZ consortium selected as preferred network operator for Central-West Orana REZ

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The ACEREZ consortium comprised of ACCIONA, COBRA and Endeavour Energy has been selected to design, build and operate the transmission network for the Central-West Orana REZ in NSW.

The government has entered a commitment deed with a consortium comprised of ACCIONA, COBRA and Endeavour Energy as preferred network operator for the REZ.

The consortium ‘ACEREZ’ has signed on to seek approval to deliver, operate and maintain the REZ transmission network for the next 35 years. This includes new high-capacity transmission lines, energy hubs and related infrastructure.

The financial closing is expected in the second half of 2024, following the completion of the regulatory approvals.

This PPP consists of the financing, conception, construction, operation and maintenance of several 330 kV and 500 kV transmission lines, substations and the connecting infrastructure to some renewable energy plants (4,5 GW capacity).

The new transmission infrastructure will enable generators such as solar and wind farms and energy storage providers in the REZ to connect to the electricity grid at a scale never seen before.

This will provide a reliable supply of clean, affordable electricity for households and businesses across NSW while helping to meet the state’s newly legislated net zero targets.

The new infrastructure, one of Australia’s largest green power grids, will bring significant economic benefits to the region, with AU$10 billion (€6.2 billion) of expected private investment through 2030 and the creation of 5,000 jobs during the construction phase.

Central-West Orana was the first REZ formed in Australia and covers an area of 20,000 square kilometres. It will initially entail the deployment of 4.5GW of grid capacity, which will grow to 6GW by 2038.

This is the first time the NSW Government has competitively procured a new transmission network, with delay and cost overrun risks to be substantially borne by the network operator, rather than passing them straight to electricity consumers.

About the Central-Western Orana REZ project

The $41m Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) project spans over 20,000 square kilometres, covering the areas surrounding Dubbo and Dunedoo in NSW. It is the first of five renewable energy zones in the state to concentrate new wind and solar power generation for efficient storage and transmission.

It features a transmission project that aims to support the delivery of the REZ in NSW’s Central-West Orana region. This $5 million Central-West Orana REZ Transmission project includes energy hubs and high-voltage transmission lines designed to convey electricity from solar and wind farms to consumers.

Project Spotlight: Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) project

Amending the REZ capacity will better support future energy needs. This 4,5 GW REZ will supply more than 2.7 million people in the Orana region, surrounding the cities of Dubbo and Dunedoo. 

The Central-West Orana REZ’s declaration has been amended after public consultation, to increase the REZ’s intended network capacity up to 6 gigawatts (GW) by 2038. The initial network capacity of the transmission infrastructure is expected to be 4.5GW.

This will support the REZ to generate additional renewable energy in the future, which analysis indicates may be required in the late 2030s.

The change will not alter the geographical size of the REZ, which covers an area of about 20,000km2 around Dubbo.

“These milestones are an important step forward in the development of the Central-West Orana REZ, taking it from vision to reality,” says Climate Change and Energy Minister Penny Sharpe.

“It brings us closer to delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy to households and businesses across NSW for decades to come, helping to meet newly legislated net zero targets in NSW,” says Climate Change and Energy Minister Penny Sharpe.

“Regional communities are central to delivering our transition to renewables. Those that host new energy infrastructure will share in the benefits of the once-in-a-generation economic opportunity presented by the transition,” says Climate Change and Energy Minister Penny Sharpe.

“EnergyCo will continue working closely with the community in the planning and delivery of the Central-West Orana REZ,” says Climate Change and Energy Minister Penny Sharpe.

The next step for the Central-West Orana REZ is to complete regulatory and planning approvals ahead of the final contract with the network operator being awarded and financial close, scheduled for the second half of 2024.

The environmental impact statement for the REZ was recently placed on public exhibition, allowing stakeholders to have their say on the project. A response to submissions will be released early next year, ahead of state and Commonwealth planning approvals, expected in mid-2024.

“ACEREZ is looking forward to working with EnergyCo to deliver the nation’s first Renewable Energy Zone in the Central-West Orana,” says ACEREZ Chief Executive Trevor Armstrong.

“We’ll work with each of the potential generators to bring the REZ to life and are committed to consulting with the community every step of the way as we help build a sustainable energy future for NSW,” says ACEREZ Chief Executive Trevor Armstrong.

Engineering works are scheduled to start in early 2024, while the electrical network is expected to be progressively operational from the third quarter of 2027.

This project is included into the large and ambitious framework of one of the first Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) chosen by the NSW Government to encourage investment in renewable energy production and storage.

If approved, construction is expected to start in early 2025, and initial operation in 2027-2028.

Source: © New South Wales Government 2024

Source: © ACCIONA 2023

Source: © VINCI

Image Source: © New South Wales Government 2024

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