NSW government’s power plan reveals huge renewable energy resources
The report's release comes weeks before energy ministers from federal, state and territory governments are due to meet to discuss the federal government's National Energy Guarantee (NEG).
That plan, which needs unanimous support, aims to resolve reliability and affordability issues – for a sector that has seen increasing outages and soaring prices- while also driving down the sector's emissions to meet Australia's commitments under the Paris climate accord.
The election win by a Liberal government in South Australia removed one of the main opponents to the federal plan.
Mr Harwin, though, signalled Coalition-led NSW's support cannot be taken for granted.
"We need new energy sources, but we also need secure supply," he said. "This is why we need a sensible national plan, which with the right details could be the NEG."
Dylan McConnell, an energy researcher at Melbourne University's Australian-German Climate & Energy College, said the NSW estimate was "a bit theoretical".
"You'd never build that amount – you'd blow up the grid," Mr McConnell said. "It's more than the installed capacity of the National Electricity Market by some margin."
Along with the identification of priority areas, the government's submission also called for the streamlining of AEMO's Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T).
Such a move would "reduce potential delays and duplication and improve investment certainty", it said.
Mr McConnell said updating the RIT-T had been proposed as far back as 2011 but the move had been stalled by different interest groups.
"There's more stakeholders that see the importance of [the streamlining]", he said, noting that even upgrades of existing transmission can take many years to be completed.
Along with supporting the emergence of new wind and solar farms that currently lack access to transmission, an acceleration of the approval process would also help the $4 billion-plus Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro storage plan proposed by the Turnbull government, Mr McConnell said.
The outline of new connections also comes as Mr Marshall, the new SA premier, has made adding another interstate connector – this time between his state and NSW – a top priority.
"The development of energy zones [in NSW] is not dependent upon an interconnector with South Australia," Mr Harwin said.
"AEMO does anticipate that future interconnection with South Australia would be part of the national plan," he said, adding "NSW looks forward to formal discussions with South Australia on their proposal."
Peter Hannam is Environment Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald. He covers broad environmental issues ranging from climate change to renewable energy for Fairfax Media.
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