Australian government dedicates AU$3bn to grid upgrades

Australian government dedicates AU$3bn to grid upgrades
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The Australian Government has signed the landmark Commonwealth-Western Australia Rewiring the Nation deal, providing AU$3 billion ($1.9 billion) to expand and modernise electricity grids in Perth, the South West and in the North West Pilbara region.

The funding will be made available through concessional loans and equity investments to Western Australia (WA) through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to new builds and major upgrades to transmission in the state’s major electricity grids.

Priority project in these grids, the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) and the North West Interconnected System (NWIS), were identified through WA’s demand assessment processes, with recent Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) modelling supporting the need for sustained investment in transmission infrastructure in the SWIS.

Upgrading the SWIS and NWIS networks

The SWIS is WA’s main electricity network and serves more than 1.1 million residential and business customers in Perth and across the South West. It starts north in Kalbarri, runs through Perth down to Albany in the south and extends to Kalgoorlie in the east.

The deal will finance priority projects across the SWIS to increase the supply of renewable energy and connect it into the grid by plugging in renewable generation hubs.

Initial modelling, states a release from the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, suggests that in 20 years’ time, the SWIS grid will need to have up to five times more electricity than is available today as new industrial users connect to the grid.

The Pilbara’s NWIS consists of largely standalone networks owned by private companies and public entities with only a very small proportion (less than 2%) of electricity generated from renewables, adds the Minister’s office.

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The agreement will support more renewable energy in the NWIS, while ensuring existing infrastructure upgrades are coordinated between industries and governments.

Stated the Prime Minister: “Today we are joining forces with the Cook Government on a AU$3 billion landmark deal to deliver affordable cleaner energy to West Australians.

“Rewiring the Nation will help future proof WA’s energy supply, while also creating new jobs in energy, mining and manufacturing.”

Added Premier of Western Australia Roger Cook: “In WA we are delivering on our sensible and achievable plan to decarbonise our existing industries and create new clean energy industries as we transition to net zero, unlocking new projects while supporting new and ongoing local jobs.

“This significant package means we can accelerate the development of key energy transmission projects to facilitate decarbonisation, while also building on my Government’s climate action plan and initiatives already underway towards more secure, cleaner, reliable and affordable energy supplies.

An investment of this scale is expected to support around 1,800 construction jobs and unlock future projects across WA, helping to empower regional communities.