Power transmission lines across Victoria will require hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to cope with a decentralised electricity network, a new report from the nation’s peak body has found.
The Australian Energy Market Operator release on Tuesday highlighted the need for urgent investment to match the abundance of new renewable energy coming online in the west and north-west of Victoria, particularly wind and solar power.
The 100-page report stated immediate investment was needed “to reduce congestion for existing and committed renewable energy developments in western and north-western Victoria”.
The peak body also identified the need to more than double the transfer capacity between Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland as part of up to $650 million in priority infrastructure.
In a statement Grampians New Energy Taskforce chairman Stuart Benjamin said “in the last month, over $3 billion of renewables projects have started construction in the greater Grampians”.
“This is just a small taste of the projects that we will see, if capacity constraints on transmission are relieved,” Mr Benjamin said.
“These projects represent a new jobs boom in the thousands for the region.”
The report highlights the need for the life of existing coal-fired power plants to be honoured to ensure stability in energy supply, but also states renewable energy is becoming cheaper and more readily available and will be the logical replacement.
The report also notes the need for major transmission upgrades between Horsham to Ballarat to Sydenham by 2024 to support the rapid increase in wind energy generation.
The document comes in a year where hundreds of wind turbines are expected to be erected across the Central Highlands region, with work on the Stockyard Hill, Moorabool and Lal Lal farms all beginning.
However without the transmission upgrades suggested by AEMO only a fraction of the energy produced will be able to be used either in Victoria or interstate due to congestion.
In a statement Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said ““we welcome this plan because it provides a roadmap for allowing more renewable energy into the grid, enhancing the delivery of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Target and putting downward pressure on energy prices”.