Barnaby Joyce is the new leader of the Nationals Party in Australia. Since the Liberals (in name only) govern in a coalition with the Nationals, that makes Barnaby the deputy Prime Minister of Australia. This is frightening stuff, as Mr. Joyce is far more conservative than the right wing of the Liberal Party. He is totally incoherent on climate policy and is pushing for more coal and gas-fired power stations, despite the fact that the industry says it doesn’t need any.
These facts make it doubly ironic when we find out that the New South Wales (NSW) state government (also Liberal — but in more than name) has declared part of his electorate a Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) and has plans for 3 big battery storage projects totaling 900MWh. How will this coal-loving politician cope, driving around his electorate amongst wind turbines, batteries, and solar farms? When the projected is completed, sometime after 2023, will he do the official opening? Will he ignore the invitations or will he show up and take credit for something he has bitterly opposed?
NSW has plans for 5 REZ — which Energy NSW describes as modern-day power stations — combining a variety of renewables and batteries with distribution infrastructure to provide cheap, reliable power to homes and industry. Not to be outdone, Victoria is funding 6 REZ. The southern section of South Australia is one big REZ and Tasmania powers on with 100% hydropower (as it has done for decades).
The federal government is responsible for funding and managing the electricity grid of the 4 Eastern States (Queensland, NSW, Victoria, & South Australia). They are all connected into one grid. The issue over the last few years has been the need for an urgent upgrade to the interconnectors between the states so that they can share power from intermittent sources. After being ignored for years, the various states have decided to go it alone and upgrade the network as more and more renewables come online.
This will reduce the amount of curtailment, encourage more investment, and allow the REZ to power an economic boom.
Image courtesy of NASA