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Victoria pushes ahead with 1.5GW network upgrade in windy south-west

Victoria is pushing ahead with a major transmission upgrade in the state’s south-west to open the way for 1,500MW of additional renewable electricity capacity, and ease voltage stability constraints.

The Mortlake Turn-In Project is the seventh under the Andrews Labor government’s $540 million Renewable Energy Zone plan to unlock 10GW of new large-scale solar and wind energy capacity across the state.

It targets a particularly troubled part of the state’s grid, where existing wind farms have been affected by constraints, while others – like the 157.5MW Mortlake South project, a winner in the state’s 2018 renewable energy auction – have faced long delays to be connected.

Victoria energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said on Tuesday that she had directed the Australian Energy Market Operator to start the next phase of the Mortlake Turn-In Project by seeking a proposal from AusNet Services on the connection of a second 500 kV transmission line to Mortlake Terminal Station.

Currently, two 500 kV transmission lines run past the Mortlake Terminal Station but only one is connected. D’Ambrosio said this project would connect the second line, delivering multiple benefits to the state, including reduced emissions and lower electricity prices resulting from the added renewables hosting capacity.

In a ministerial order published on Tuesday, D’Ambrosio said that without the transmission upgrade, some generators were being operationally curtailed, while the connection of others was being delayed or prevented.

“The Mortlake Turn In Project will reduce curtailment of renewable generation in the region, remove the actual and projected network constraints and enable increased hosting capacity of new renewable energy in the longer term,” the order said.

In a media statement, D’Ambrosio stressed that the project would, in particular, “provide a critical boost to wind farms in Victoria’s South West whose productivity has been affected by constraints in this part of the network.”

The progression of the transmission project follows last month’s formal invitation to tender for projects to build out three of six designated Renewable Energy Zones in Victoria, which is expected to lead to the connection of 1.5 gigawatts of new generation capacity.

The Andrews government in mid-December announced that the Australian Energy Market Operator was launching the next stage of the procurement process for the state’s Murray River, Western Victoria and South West renewable energy zones, or REZs.

AEMO, which has additional responsibilities for managing grid connections in Victoria, has previously estimated that Victoria will need at least 5.4GW of additional large-scale projects and distributed energy resources investment to meet its 2030 renewable energy target.

Source: RenewEconomy