Green Energy: NSW sees flood of interest for New England renewable energy zone projects
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The New South Wales Government’s bid to turn New England into a renewable energy hub has got off to a fast start, with more than 80 registrations of interest to develop 34GW of renewable energy hub.
Energy Minister Matt Kean said that quadrupled the level of interest required to build out the 8GW New England Renewable Energy Zone, described by Kean as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to attract economic investment to regional NSW.
“The New England REZ is expected to deliver around $10.7 billion in investment and around 830 operational jobs, as well as 1,250 construction jobs each year, all while putting downward pressure on electricity prices and providing landowners with new income streams,” he said.
“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.”
The news came as the Energy Security Board released its post-2025 market design proposal to state Energy Ministers, including a hotly-contested plan to introduce physical capacity payments for generators that can provide firming capacity as more intermittent power sources like wind and solar enter the grid.
New South Wales has earmarked $380 million in its budget to deliver its Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, on top of an existing $79 million investment to deliver the New England REZ.
The first auctions for REZ renewable energy projects are due to take place in 2022, with the NSW Government saying the high level of interest shown will ensure high quality projects are able to be prioritised.
“With this level of interest, we have the luxury of supporting only the best projects that benefit the community, maintain the highest and strictest development standards and maximise local renewable jobs and investment in the region,” Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said.
“By co-ordinating REZ development in a strategic way, we can control our own destiny, making sure the projects we host work for our community, not just developers.”
Junior renewables generator Genex Power (ASX:GNX) says it is now the only pure play Australian renewable power generator on the ASX.
That came on the back of a wave of asset and corporate buyouts including the recent takeover of Tilt Renewables by AGL-backed PowAR and New Zealand’s Mercury NZ.
Genex has just finished the commissioning of the 50MW Jemalong solar farm in rural NSW and also owns the operating 50MW Kidston solar farm in north Queensland.
The Kidston hub is due to get much bigger, with the ARENA-backed 250MW Kidston pumped hydro storage project under construction and due to begin operations in 2024.
Once operating it will be Australia’s first new pumped hydro facility in 40 years and its third largest energy storage facility.
Construction of the 50MW Bouldercombe large battery is also set to begin early next year, with feasibility studies ongoing into adding a 150MW wind farm at Kidston to its solar and hydro hub.
Genex says a full year of operations from Jemalong will see a “step change” in revenue for the renewables generator in FY22, despite booking a $16.5 million impairment on it largely due a decline in wholesale electricity prices and accounting measures.
The company posted $13.8m in underlying revenue in FY21, up from $12.3m in FY20 and flat underlying EBITDA of $1.8m (on negative EBITDA of $6.8m), with net losses reducing marginally from $10.5m to $10.1m.
However, Jemalong has so far been seeing average prices above initial forecasts of more than US$100/MWh, which Genex says will be seen in its September Quarter results.
Flow battery producer Redflow (ASX:RFX) says its zinc-bromine flow battery has been identified as the preferred chemistry for a major installation in regional WA.
Redflow has been invited to tender at the 1-2MWh project at the Karratha Leisureplex in North West WA, which would be just its second project above Megawatt-hour scale alongside a 2MWh project for Anaergia in California due to be completed in October.
The ASX-listed company said the tender will not give it the contract per se, but will put it in the box seat for what would be the largest energy storage system it has installed in Australia.
“We are delighted to have our batteries requested by the Karratha Leisureplex as the preferred chemistry for their energy storage project,” CEO Tim Harris said.
“If Redflow is ultimately selected as the energy storage technology, the battery energy storage solution for up to 2 MWh will be our second Megawatt-hour system, having recently signed a contract for a 2 Megawatt-hour solution for Anaergia in California [US], and Redflow’s largest so far in Australia.
“We are delighted to have received significant interest in our batteries for large projects, with momentum building in Australia and in the US, for Megawatt-hour systems.”
Despite the impacts of Covid-19 on sales, Redflow announced a 14% increase in revenue to $2.23 million in FY2021 and a 5% decrease in losses after tax from $10.02 million in 2020 to $9.59m.
Redflow, which had an order backlog for 176 batteries at June 30 for 2022 delivery, raised $11.9m in June to back the development of a new “Gen3” battery model and its expansion into the US.