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NSW Revises Guidelines For Large-Scale Solar: Solar Farms Should Be in the Right Locations

New South Wales (NSW) has excellent solar resources and an established electricity infrastructure, which makes it an attractive location for solar energy development. Just recently, the NSW Government announced new guidelines that can help assess large-scale solar projects a lot clearer as they shore up reliable energy supply ahead of the coal-fired generation assets withdrawal. 

The new guidelines will result in at least 12 GW of renewable energy generation projects before 2030, which will fill the gap that will take place when coal generation exits. Currently, 83 projects have been approved and are already being planned. These projects have a combined capacity of seven million homes. 

Below is the first set of NSW solar guidelines released in 2021:

With this, solar farms should be in the right locations, as stated by the Planning Minister Anthony Roberts. This is why they have released a set of revised guidelines, which will help deal with issues and assist the community and applicants in understanding the planning and engagement process better. 

Large-scale solar is also known as a solar farm, which has the capacity to generate solar power anywhere the sun shines. Solar farms use solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to generate electricity from fields of solar panels. In Australia, large-scale generation continues to grow. In fact, there are over 100 large-scale solar projects that have been accredited by the Clean Energy Regulator as registered generators. 

Such projects have been a success and played an important role in achieving the Australian Government’s mandated Renewable Energy Target by 2020. Today, the industry strives to build generation capacity faster than ever, which is crucial to the country’s ambitions to transition to a low-carbon electricity grid and establishment of the green hydrogen supply chain.

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The revised guidelines

The new and revised guidelines are set to encourage project developers to consider the land during the site selection process. They need to ensure that the site is “agriculturally capable” and that the solar energy project should not sit on important agricultural land. 

The revised guidelines follow changes to planning rules last year that are aimed at protecting the character and future growth potential of regional cities from renewable projects. 

As mentioned, NSW has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world today. And taking advantage of that will deliver cleaner and more affordable electricity to households and businesses in the state, which will also boost the industry. 

With the newly-revised guidelines, investors will be given the certainty they need to mobilise private capital and deliver the energy infrastructure that is necessary. 

You can view the revised guidelines here.

Four coal-fired power plants out of five in the state are expected to close in the next 15 years. One of them is the Liddell Power Station in NSW Hunter Valley. Australia’s largest energy retailer, AGL is pushing ahead to close it with the confirmation of Delta Group to oversee the first stage of closure. 

The 1,680 MW power station will close in April 2023. AGL will use the site to construct new generation and storage infrastructure. In fact, AGL has already lodged plans to build a giant 500 MW battery at the site. 

Additionally, the Eraring coal-fired power station is set to close in 2025. The Eraring coal-fired power plant is the largest in Australia. 

What happens to NSW when these coal-fired power plants shut down?

With the revised guidelines and new projects underway, the NSW government is confident that its energy supply will remain secure even after the closure of the biggest power station in the country. Also, with advice from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the NSW Government has developed a comprehensive plan to ensure the state gets reliable and affordable electricity. 

As part of this plan, the NSW Government will work with industry partners to install the Waratah Super Battery by 2025 that can release grid capacity so Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong consumers can access more energy. 

Also, to keep the downward pressure on energy prices, the NSW Government will speed up the delivery of new supply through the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap. They are also building a Transmission Acceleration Facility to boost the delivery of priority transmission projects and Renewable Energy Zones. 

Energy Matters has over 17 years of experience in the solar industry and has helped over 40,000 Australian households in their journey to energy independence.

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