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This report states that, in the third year of the NSW Renewable Energy Action Plan, 17 of the 24 actions have been completed while seven more have been progressed.

Key achievements in 2015–16

Goal 1: Attract renewable energy investment

  • The operational electricity use of the state’s signature infrastructure project Sydney Metro Northwest will be fully offset by renewable energy from NSW.
  • Focused support was provided to the NSW solar farms shortlisted under ARENA’s Competitive Round for Large-scale Solar, which ensured that all eight solar farms had planning approval and offers to connect ahead of the application deadline.
  • A government tender was launched for renewable energy from around 50 megawatts of installed solar capacity to increase the competitive standing of shortlisted solar farms applying for ARENA funding.
  • A streamlined approach to the assessment of solar projects was developed by working closely across government and with stakeholders to proactively address issues, without any compromise on environmental standards or community engagement.
  • NSW supported the launch of the Institute for Sustainable Futures’ Network Opportunity Maps, which illustrate where renewable energy, energy storage and demand management can be used to meet network constraints.

Goal 2: Build community support

  • A new Wind Energy Development Framework was developed that will ensure NSW has the right settings to attract investment in wind energy, while balancing the interests of the community, with public consultation beginning in 2016–17.
  • The government sought to overcome network constraints and reduce costs for customers by contributing $430,000 towards a feasibility study for a renewable energy hub in the New England Region.
  • Strong public support for renewable energy was revealed by a government-commissioned study into community awareness, knowledge and attitudes to renewable energy technologies across NSW.
  • Strategic options have been outlined for delivering ownership and benefit sharing models for wind farms in NSW in a report that reviews the international policy landscape.
  • GreenPower Connect was launched by the government as a new low-cost product to open up the market for direct bulk purchases of renewable energy over and above the national renewable energy target.

Goal 3: Attract and grow renewable energy expertise

  • The government removed barriers that will enable greater deployment of smart grid technologies through changes to the regulatory framework for the rollout of smart meters.
  • NSW supported the Australian portal of the US Department of Energy’s Global Energy Storage Database, which will inform investors, developers, and researchers about the latest commercial and utility scale energy storage installations.
  • The Hunter Energy Transition Alliance was launched as a collaboration between government, industry, and the community to attract new investment and achieve economic diversity for the Upper Hunter Region.
  • The government signed on to support the national mission to fill the information gap and catalyse investment in the bioenergy industry through the Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment
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