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Parliamentary Questions

Question On Notice No. 2607 asked in the Legislative Council on 24 October 2019 by Hon Tim Clifford

Question Directed to the: Minister for Environment representing the Minister for Energy
Minister responding: Hon W.J. Johnston
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

I refer to the Industry Innovation section of the Climate Change in Western Australia issues paper, and I ask:
(a) what measures has the State Government undertaken to increase investment in renewable energy projects in Western Australia:
(i) will the Minister please detail how effective these measures have been;
(b) given the need to rapidly transition to a low-carbon economy, how does the State Government plan to increase renewable energy investment;
(c) will the State Government implement a Renewable Energy Target to ensure business confidence in renewable energy investment; and
(d) if no to (c), why not?

Answered on 28 November 2019

(a) The McGowan Government, earlier this year, launched its Energy Transformation Strategy that will deliver cleaner, affordable and more reliable energy to households and businesses for decades to come.

The Strategy has three key elements.

Firstly, the development and implementation of a Distributed Energy Resources, or DER, Roadmap to manage the integration of growing levels of small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) generation, battery storage and future clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles, into the WA electricity system. The DER Roadmap will be produced by the end of 2019.

Second, next year the Strategy will deliver the first Whole of System Plan for the main electricity grid in the south west of the State, the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), to optimise future investment in network, generation and storage infrastructure. It will help maximise the environmental benefits and minimise the costs of the transition to increased renewable energy generation. The final key component is a package of reforms to modernise the Wholesale Electricity Market. These include reforms to allow more cost-effective access to the Western Power network through moving to a constrained network access framework. This reform should not only improve the efficiency of Western Power’s network but also make it easier to co-locate wind and solar facilities that have different generating profiles.

The State Government has also established the Renewable Hydrogen Strategy, focusing on opportunities for Western Australia to capture a share of the global demand for clean energy and how to capitalise on Western Australia's vast land and renewable energy resources, including wind and solar, to deliver renewable hydrogen to export markets

(i) While these reforms are being developed, a temporary measure, the Generator Interim Access (GIA) arrangement, has been introduced to provide lower cost network connection opportunities for new renewable energy generators.

The GIA has enabled the following large-scale renewable energy projects to proceed: 

  • Alinta Energy’s 210 MW Yandin Wind Farm;
  • Risen Energy’s 100 MW Merredin Solar Farm;
  • Bright Energy Investment’s 180 MW Warradarge Wind Farm; and
  • APA’s 130 MW Badgingarra Wind Farm.

Furthermore, Phoenix Energy is constructing a 36 MW waste to energy project in Kwinana and APA is adding a 17.5 MW Solar Farm to its Badgingarra project.

The State-owned electricity business Synergy has entered a partnership with the private sector to form Bright Energy Investments, an investment vehicle focussed on the development of large-scale renewable energy projects in Western Australia.

Bright Energy Investments is currently developing the 180 MW Warradarge Wind Farm; and stage 2 of the Greenough River Solar Farm south of Geraldton, to increase capacity from 10 MW to 40 MW.

Synergy, Horizon Power and Western Power are also involved in many projects and trials leading the energy transition, including initial stage rollouts of stand-alone power systems, which can provide increased reliability and quality of supply to rural customers, reduce bushfire risk and reduce the overall costs of electricity supply across the State. These systems incorporate solar PV and battery energy storage systems.

Two very large projects have also been proposed for Western Australia’s regional areas:

  • 5-gigawatt (GW) Murchison Renewable Hydrogen Project; and
  • 15 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub.

(b) See (a)

(c) No, however all electricity businesses in the SWIS must meet the existing Renewable Energy Target.

(d) Large-scale renewable energy projects continue to be developed in Western Australia without a State Renewable Energy Target. The commercial merit of building, owning and operating new renewable energy generation is driving investment. Investment is occurring in both network-connected generators and off-grid generation projects, such as mine sites.