Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The NSW government has offered support in the form of improved grid infrastructure and streamlined approvals for new wind farm projects in designated renewable energy zones.
Government renewable energy investment program swamped by support
By Peter Hannam
June 23, 2020 — 12.00am
Plans to open up the Central West of NSW to more renewable energy have generated overwhelming investor interest – topping $38 billion, or nine times the government’s available capacity.
The government program is designed to attract investors to build 3000 megawatts of new wind and solar farms worth an estimated $4.4 billion in the state’s first renewable energy zone around Dubbo, but has instead drawn proposals for 27,000MW in so-called 113 registrations of interest, the Berejiklian government said.
The state government identified the Central West region as one of its three priority areas for luring clean energy investments. All three – including in the Riverina, near Hay; and New England, around Armidale – benefit from having good wind and solar resources but also proximity to existing transmission links and population centres.
“I want NSW households and businesses to have some of the cheapest and cleanest electricity in the world and this [zone] will bring in the low-cost solar and wind to do that,” Mr Kean said.
The tumbling costs of new solar and wind farms mean such plants can be built at as little as half the cost of new coal- or gas-fired power stations, and typically much faster.
The challenge for governments, generators and regulators is increasingly how to integrate the largely intermittent sources of new electricity while maintaining grid stability.
…Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/government-renewable-energy-investment-program-swamped-by-support-20200622-p554uo.html
The NSW government FAQ suggests they are trying to copy the Texan renewable energy zone programme.
The Texan renewable programme has not exactly covered itself in glory when it comes to maintaining grid stability. From August last year;
Texas Heat Wave Exposes Energy Grid Challenges
Electric grids across the U.S. are facing the apparent impacts of climate change as they’re being reshaped by wind, solar and inexpensive natural gas.
By Alan Neuhauser Staff WriterAug. 19, 2019, at 12:01 a.m.
TWICE IN ONE WEEK THIS August, and for the first time in five years, the owners of power lines and distribution networks across Texas found themselves in an electric game of chance as sweltering, near-record temperatures prompted an energy emergency.
As the temperatures climbed, demand from air conditioners soared and winds slowed, the state’s grid operator found itself with a shrinking margin of reserve power. And when the amount of spare capacity dipped below a tripwire of 2,300 megawatts (less than 3% of the state’s energy needs) on Aug. 13 and again Aug. 15, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, was forced to take action.
Power plants rushed to ramp up their outputs to take advantage of prices that briefly soared past a state mandated cap of $9,000 per megawatt-hour – up from about only $19 hours earlier. The companies that own transmission and distribution systems, meanwhile, hurried to reduce consumption by their customers, knowing that the rates the companies will pay next year are based on when demand is highest.
…Read more: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2019-08-19/texas-heat-wave-tests-electric-grid-underscores-challenges-for-wind
I’m not sure how New South Wales energy intensive industry feels about the prospect of USD $9000+ / MWh electricity and aggressive demand management, but it is probably not something they are looking forward to.
Some processes like Alumina smelting cannot simply be switched off when electricity prices spike or power supply fails. A sustained power failure at the wrong time can do expensive damage to alumina smelting plants.
Like Texas, NSW has some impressive heatwaves. Heatwaves in Australia are often accompanied by strong, blistering hot winds blowing straight from the Australian desert, but not always.