Western Australia gets $3b funding for grid expansion

Enormous transmission towers against dark blue sky (renewables electricity)
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Western Australia’s Government has secured $3 billion in federal funding to power the next stage of the state’s grid expansion with affordable and more secure renewable energy.

The Commonwealth-Western Australia Rewiring the Nation deal will bolster WA’s energy security by expanding and modernising electricity grids in Perth, the South West, as well as in the North West Pilbara region.

The federal government will provide up to $3 billion through concessional loans and equity investments to WA through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to new builds and major upgrades to transmission in the State’s major electricity grids—the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) and the North West Interconnected System (NWIS).

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Priority projects in these grids 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.

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.

This 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 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.

Investing in new energy grid projects will ensure the SWIS remains fit-for-purpose and ensure cleaner, affordable and more reliable energy for West Australians into the future.

The Pilbara’s NWIS consists of largely standalone networks owned by private companies and public entities, with only a very small proportion (less than two per cent) of electricity generated from renewables.

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

This Rewiring the Nation deal builds on the momentum of the Pilbara Industry Roundtable, a significant WA Government-led initiative, which included some of the State’s major resources companies.

It will unlock economic development and speed up decarbonisation by bringing on more renewable energy and sharing it more efficiently across different users.

The Australian and WA Governments will work closely with First Nations Australians to understand their views on this investment and support their participation in the State’s clean energy transformation.

Premier of Western Australia Roger Cook said, “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.

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“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.

“I thank the Commonwealth Government for its confidence in WA, and the way in which they have approached negotiations for a Rewiring the Nation allocation for WA, and I want to acknowledge the efforts of WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston for spearheading the concept and undertaking consultation to garner the support and commitment of key industry players in WA.”

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