Image source: Sydney Morning Herald

‘Renewables superhighway’ to ease grid limits

Australia, Victoria, Melbourne: Electricity transmission constraints between Victoria and NSW will be eased after the Andrews and Morrison governments struck a $200 M deal to underwrite a key grid project that will also spur more investment in wind and solar farms.

Victoria and the Commonwealth will each tip in $100 M to support initial work on the new VNI West project, also known as the Keranglink, that will also enable the proposed giant Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project in NSW to supply electricity to the southern state.

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s Energy Minister, said the 1800 MW capacity transmission project would create “a renewable energy superhighway, creating a wave of new jobs right across the state.”

While the $200 B is a fraction of the $3 B energy deal between NSW and the federal government signed earlier this year, further funding announcements are expected to come.

The second instalment would treat the deal with NSW, which included almost $1 B to support low-emissions technology, as a template. Innovation to bolster the Star of the South, Australia’s first offshore wind project, would likely feature in any additional funding from Canberra.

Apart from helping Victoria exploit more of the rich solar energy resources of the state’s south-west, the project’s preferred route would also take it close to the South-West renewable energy zone, one of five big regions where the Berejiklian government is encouraging as much as $32 B in new clean energy generation and storage.

Dylan McConnell, an energy expert at Melbourne University, said the falling cost of renewable energy and storage meant the benefits of investing large amounts of money into long-distance transmission would likely diminish over time.

He also noted that the cost of infrastructure tended to exceed initial estimates, such as the rise in estimated cost of the South Australia-NSW link, known as Project Energy Connect, had ballooned from $1 B to more like $2.5 B.

Ms D’Ambrosio, meanwhile, is expected to announce other climate-related policies when the Andrews government releases its budget on Tuesday. These would add to the $800 M announced last week mostly to boost energy efficiency in homes, particularly renters.


Source: Sydney Morning Herald