Victoria greenlights six grid upgrades to act as wind and solar shock absorbers
The Victorian government will proceed with six key grid upgrade projects – boosting the capacity of the state’s networks to transport supplies of wind and solar – as it readies for a surge in investment across planned renewable energy zones.
The six projects will consist of three transmission network upgrades and the deployment of three synchronous condensers at strategic locations across the state, to improve the capacity of the Victorian grid to accept variable renewable energy sources.
The three network upgrades include augmentation works within renewable energy zones planned for the Murray River, South West and Central North regions of the state.
Each of the augmentation works are expected to increase the amount of electricity capacity that can be transferred through key transmission network links and will reduce the amount of wind and solar generation that may need to be curtailed.
Three 250MVAr synchronous condensers will also be deployed within the regions flagged for the Murray River, Western and South West renewable energy zones.
The synchronous condensers will provide crucial system strength services by smoothing out variable electricity supplies over the short-term, allowing more renewable energy capacity to be connected and supplied to the grid.
The Victorian state government said that it would commission the Australian Energy Market Operator to manage the tender process for the six projects, and is part of a push by the state government to take more control over the infrastructure investments made in Victoria.
“By supporting these investments beyond what is possible through the regulatory investment processes, such as the Regulatory Investment Test – Transmission (RIT-T), consumers can benefit from more lower-cost renewable generation entering the market, as well as non-market benefits such as local economic activity and jobs,” the Victorian government says.
The Victorian Labor government had set aside $540 million in the 2020-21 state budget to fund the development of new energy infrastructure necessary to support the establishment of up to six dedicated renewable energy zones across Victoria.
On Tuesday, Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the six new infrastructure projects would act like “shock absorbers” and provide a signal to project developers that the Victoria will soon be ready to host new wind and solar projects across the state.
“These projects are an investment in unlocking the next wave of renewable energy across Victoria,” D’Ambrosio said. “They will ensure we have the transmission needed to harness the sunshine and wind across Victoria.”
“This is a clear signal to investors that Victoria is open for business, and ready for new wind and solar projects that create jobs and opportunities in local communities across Victoria.”
The Victorian government said that two further projects, the Western Victorian Transmission Network upgrades and upgrades to network infrastructure in Mortlake were already being assessed with environmental approvals already in progress.
An additional project, an upgrade to communications infrastructure in the South West renewable energy zone had been flagged under the Victorian government’s renewable energy zones development plan, and could still progress as part of AusNet’s future network investments.