Grid upgrade to meet green energy boom

The WA Government has allocated $126 million in this week’s State Budget to kickstart early network planning for an electricity grid expansion to support new green energy initiatives.

The plan includes building 50 gigawatts of new energy capacity over 20 years.

Peak demand is expected to triple by 2024, requiring almost 10 times the current amount of generation and storage capacity.

Anticipating future electricity demand

As part of the Government’s South West Interconnected System (SWIS) Demand Assessment, industry data was collated to understand the potential change in electricity demand, the requirements of existing industrial users and expected growth in new industries such as hydrogen and critical minerals.

Initial modelling anticipates an additional 7.2GW of new industry electricity demand would occur in the WA’s main electricity network by 2042, which could require supply of up to 51.1GW of new generation and storage capacity.

Modelling indicates more than 4000km of new network could be required to connect industrial users with new renewable energy projects and unlock constrained areas of the SWIS.

The SWIS runs from Geraldton to Albany, and east to Kalgoorlie.

Energy Minister Hon Bill Johnson MLA said the current system was inadequate to meet the needs of burgeoning demand from the private sector looking to meet its net zero commitments by 2050.

“Transmission infrastructure is a critical enabler of our energy transition, being essential for connecting users with renewable energy resources,” says Minister Johnson.

“An expanded grid is the most cost-efficient way of supporting decarbonisation as it can reach further for wind and solar. The SWIS cannot rely on other electricity systems to support it, so having a strong transmission backbone is critical for reliable supply.”

Three-staged approach

The SWIS Demand Assessment document outlines a three-staged approach, beginning by upgrading the northern corridor towards Geraldton, and building new lines to the south by 2027. Stage two, expected to be finished by 2034, includes building new lines from Perth to Kwinana, as well as connecting the eastern Goldfields to the South West. Works from 2034 will form part of stage three, which involves the construction of a new transmission line to a renewable energy hub in the Goldfields and new lines to expand the southern renewable generation hub.

“The resulting picture is exciting, with huge potential to connect new renewable generation and storage projects that will support new and existing industries and create new jobs,” says Minister Johnson.

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