Developing Victoria’s REZs
In November 2020, the Victorian Government announced a $1.6 billion clean energy package through the 2020–21 State Budget, to invest in renewables, grid infrastructure, energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects, including $540 million to establish 6 Renewable Energy Zones (REZs).
The Victorian Government, through its Climate Change Strategy, has committed to reduce emissions by 28 to 33% by 2025 and 45 to 50% by 2030, to help keep Victoria on track to meet our target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
With electricity generation accounting for more than half of Victoria’s carbon emissions, the transition to clean energy is vital to achieve our climate change targets. The development of REZs is key to this energy transformation.
We are working to actively plan and develop Victorian REZs, with a commitment to invest $540 million in needed REZ network infrastructure and the establishment of a new body, VicGrid.
By identifying Renewable Energy Zones, the Victorian Government can target investment towards strengthening the transmission network in Victoria to enable an orderly and coordinated transition to renewable energy and engage with local communities to ensure that they benefit from REZs.
Strategic investment in REZs provides a lower cost and faster way of delivering new generation to the system – helping to accelerate the process of decarbonisation and deliver affordable and reliable power.
The Victorian Government will develop the REZs to:
- ensure that communities, including Traditional Owners, are engaged in the process
- provide for the orderly, planned development of renewable energy resources
- efficiently and effectively expand the grid and connect new generation
- reduce network congestion and costs.
Where are the Victorian REZs?
The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Integrated System Plan (ISP) identified 6 Victorian REZs:
- Central North
- Murray River
- Ovens Murray
- South Victoria
- Western Victoria
Planning REZs and consultation process – REZ development plan and directions paper
The first step towards developing Victoria’s REZs was the release of the REZ Development Plan Directions Paper for consultation on 18 February 2021 so industry and community stakeholders could provide feedback on broadly 3 areas:
- potential network investment projects identified in the initial REZ Development Plan (RDP)
- potential form and function of VicGrid in planning and developing REZs in Victoria
- broader issues for consideration when developing Victoria’s REZs.
We will keep you updated on future consultation and decisions in relation to the RDP as announcements are made.
The release of the directions paper was a key milestone and reflected an early stage in the process for developing a RDP.
As part of this initial phase of consultation, from mid-February to 31 March 2021, the Victorian Government:
- ran a series of online briefing forums on the directions paper, targeting a wide range of industry and community stakeholders, including renewable energy and infrastructure investors, developers, energy businesses, consumer and industry representatives, and REZ community stakeholders
- held bilateral meetings with industry and community stakeholders
- invited and received a robust number of submissions in response to the directions paper.
Written submissions were received from a wide range of industry and community stakeholders, including market and regulatory bodies, renewable generation developers, financiers, council representatives, business associations and energy user groups and residents located within a REZ.
The volume and diversity of responses highlighted the importance of this initiative for the Victorian community and energy industry.
You can view the submissions that have consented to publication.
Investing in REZ - Stage One Projects
The next step in Victoria’s $540 million Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) investment is underway, with the progression of Stage One network investment projects set to strengthen and modernise Victoria’s electricity grid.
The Victorian Government has worked with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to identify potential network investments to support the timely and efficient development of REZs in an initial Renewable Energy Zones Development Plan (RDP), released for consultation in February 2021. The RDP identified 9 potential near-term projects to reduce existing constraints and support the connection of Victoria’s pipeline of renewable energy projects (Stage One projects). This included minor network augmentation works, projects to strengthen the system and larger augmentation projects. The RDP also identified 21 potential longer-term investments in REZ infrastructure that require further assessment and community and stakeholder consultation (Stage Two projects).
Community and industry feedback on the proposed network investments has contributed to the Government’s assessments, including technical and economic analysis, informing the Victorian Government’s decision to progress a series of Stage One network investment projects. These projects will deliver network upgrades to address thermal constraints and strengthen the Victorian transmission system. By addressing network constraints, Stage One projects allow more generation to be exported to the existing network and assist the connection of pipeline projects. The additional renewable generation enabled should ultimately lead to lower electricity costs for consumers.
By Ministerial Order under the National Electricity (Victoria) Act 2005, the Victorian Government has directed AEMO to progress a series of Stage 1 Projects under two procurement streams.
A call for expressions of interest and tender process will run for services to strengthen the system across the Murray River, Western Victoria and South West REZs. Following this process, the Government will make a final investment decision, subject to projects demonstrating a clear benefit to Victorian households and businesses.
A market information forum will be held by AEMO on Tuesday, 10 August from 2-3.30pm as part of this process – to register your interest please visit RDPStage1@aemo.com.au
A non-contestable request for proposal process with relevant incumbent network service providers will also be undertaken for three sets of network augmentation projects across the Murray River, South West and Central North REZs.
Further technical information about the projects is available in the Renewable Energy Zones Stage One projects Fact sheet (DOCX, 1.8 MB).
Coordinating REZs – VicGrid
For REZs to be developed to their full potential, there is a clear need for the timely, coordinated development of large-scale renewable generation and network infrastructure, with strong community support.
VicGrid, a new body, has been tasked with co-ordinating the overarching planning and development of Victorian REZs. This body will also oversee investment decisions related to the $540 million REZ fund that will be used to strengthen the grid and unlock the potential of the REZs. From July 2021, VicGrid will be established as a Division within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
The Victorian Government continues to develop the framework for determining future transmission investment in REZs, VicGrid’s proposed role in that framework, and the Government’s broader approach to developing Victorian REZs. The Government will make further announcements regarding stakeholder consultation on the development of these frameworks.
Questions and feedback
For questions and feedback, please email REZDevelopment@delwp.vic.gov.au
Page last updated: 02/09/21