• The State Government of NSW has released Stage 1 of its net zero emissions plan for 2050
  • Renewable energy with its falling costs and low emission clean energy technologies are central to the plan
  • It entails grid connecting 17.7 GW of renewable energy in 3 zones dedicated for the development of these technologies
  • State has also more than doubled its solar target from 55,000 MWh to 126,000 MWh to be achieved by 2024

The New South Wales (NSW) state government in Australia has released stage 1 of its net zero emissions plan to be achieved by 2050 titled Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020-2030. One of the centra pillars is to grid connect up to 17.7 GW of ‘cheaper’ renewable energy in the state. Three Renewable Energy Zones in the Central-West, New England and South-West of the state will help deliver regional infrastructure to support this new energy capacity.

The major part of this 17.7 GW will comprise solar and wind farms. The zones will play a critical role in replacing retiring generators over the next two decades and bringing in renewable energy instead.

With the establishment of these zones, the government expects to drive up to $23 billion of private sector investment. On an annual basis, it should lead to the creation of about 2,000 construction jobs per year in the state, it expects.

While net zero is the target for the year 2050, the state will aim for a 35% emissions reduction by 2030 over 2005 in the interim.

The government wants to take advantage of the benefits that renewable energy technologies offer with their falling costs while helping reduce the state’s emissions. The plan is intended to be a ‘foundation for the state’s action on climate change, to be built on into the future’.

“Where there are technologies that can reduce both our emissions and costs for households and businesses, we want to roll them out across the State,” said NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean. “Where these technologies are not yet commercial, we want to invest in their development so they will be available in the decades to come.”

Under the state’s Government Resource Efficiency Policy (GREP), it is mandatory for public sector agencies to use resource-efficient technologies and services to reduce costs. As part of the GREP, the NSW government says it will more than double its solar target from 55,000 MWh to 126,000 MWh by 2024, use government building rooftops and other spaces for solar installations by third parties, purchase electricity from low emission generation sources, among other measures.

According to the local renewable energy news portal RenewEconomy, the South West Renewable Energy Zone will be located around Hay township and might attract up to 4.95 GW of additional wind, solar and storage generation capacity.  The New England zone near Armidale town will be able to support another 5.5 GW and Central West zone is already declared to hold up to 3 GW of clean energy capacity.