In the most ambitious energy plan in Australia, the New South Wales government has committed to make the State, home to Sydney as Australia's financial capital, a renewable energy superpower.
The State government has pledged to support the private sector to build $32 billion worth of renewable energy infrastructure by 2030, as New South Wales acknowledges that coal-fired power generation is no longer the future.
The landmark Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill, passed on 25 November 2020, dealt a blow to opposition MPs who had attempted to thwart the bill's passage by requesting hundreds of procedural amendments. Opponents had raised concerns that the bill would lead to premature closure of coal-fired power stations.
The legislation represents a major breakthrough for Australia and New South Wales. In 2011 the State's then Energy Minister announced that New South Wales was a 'coal state'. 9 years' later the transition to renewable energy will now become a reality, creating thousands of jobs and delivering 12 gigawatts of renewable energy and two gigawatts of storage, largely pumped hydro.
Pumped hydro is the most common form of energy storage worldwide. When renewable energy (e.g. wind and solar) is plentiful and cheap it is used to pump water from a lower reservoir to a nearby upper reservoir through a pipe or tunnel. When demand increases, or wind and solar production drops (making electricity expensive), the pumped water is then released downhill through a turbine to generate electricity. As such, a more stable, less intermittent source of energy can be achieved by adding electricity from the turbine to the original renewable energy source.
As Australia emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, State governments have been looking at immediate ways of stimulating the economy, while simultaneously analysing the reforms needed to secure future jobs. The acknowledgement that renewable energy is the safest and cleanest way of securing energy security provides the long term certainty needed for the private sector to drive investment in the region.