Why?

More power is needed to support growth in demand in residential and industrial sectors, which is being driven by population growth, electrification and a desire of manufacturers to increase production due to the state’s 100 per cent renewable credentials. There is also pressure from new industries like hydrogen for additional electricity, but even in the absence of this demand, by the end of the decade the state will need new generation to deal with organic growth factors.

See here for more information.

As the world shifts to renewable energy for its electricity supply it is important that Tasmania coordinates this development locally to get the best outcomes for Tasmanians. Renewable Energy Zones are being developed in many states throughout Australia as a way to build the least new transmission infrastructure, rather than every new wind or solar farm building its own transmission lines. This approach will also have better outcomes for communities and limit impacts on our natural environment. Tasmania’s renewable powerhouse vision commits to sustainably growing our renewable energy generation to 200% of 2020 levels by 2040 and REZ will help us plan this delivery well.

The north west of Tasmania is ideal to locate new renewables due to its abundant wind resources, developer interest, existing projects, and alignment with Marinus Link and the North West Transmission upgrades which provide capacity in the network to host new generation.

Learn more about the process undertaken to determine the north west as an optimal region here.

What?

Renewable Energy Zones are high quality resource areas (wind and solar) where clusters of large-scale energy projects can be developed.

REZs enable a better way to coordinate investment and the development of renewable energy projects, rather than project proponents choosing locations on a project by project basis.

By incentivising a zone for renewable energy development, impacts can be managed from a central point of coordination. This ensures sustainable energy growth which imparts positive social impact and maximises benefits for those areas surrounding a REZ.

There are places outside of REZ that can also cater for a single project and where there may be existing capacity in the network. These projects can continue subject to gaining all appropriate environmental and planning approvals and network agreements to connect to the shared network.

The Government will continue to engage with proponents outside the proposed REZ areas on the progression of their projects.

A REZ is designed to host renewable energy generation projects, along with transmission infrastructure that provides a central point of connection. But there may also be a mix of projects, including wind, solar, battery storage facilities, and potentially other innovative technologies. The final project types will depend on the renewable energy potential of the region, market investment opportunities and proponent interest. However, it is expected that wind farms will be the most likely generation projects in the proposed REZ, while there are known large scale energy users who are seeking to locate in the REZ.

ReCFIT’s function as the REZ coordinator is guided by the following objectives:

  • To assist in achieving the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Target
  • Supporting new load growth domestically and the transition to renewables in the broader National Electricity Market
  • Build community and stakeholder support for renewables development in Tasmania.

The REZ framework is underpinned by a set of REZ principles. The principles seek to plan, develop and manage REZ in a sustainable and community-supported way and include community involvement, environmental protection, maximised economic and community benefits, transparency, and market adaptability. REZ development will also need to adhere to the Guidelines for Community Engagement, Local Procurement and Benefit Sharing.

If the proposed REZ goes ahead it would require the development of:

  • A 220kV transmission line from Burnie to Hampshire Hills, mostly utilising existing easements. This is part of the North West Transmission Development planned by TasNetworks.
  • A substation at Hampshire Hills.

Each renewable energy project locating in the REZ would be required to connect to the Burnie to Hampshire Hills transmission line to be part of the REZ, reducing the need for project-by-project construction of high voltage transmission lines.

How?

Tasmania’s north west is the first region to be explored for its potential to host the state's first REZ. This REZ will initially support around 1GW of new generation capacity by the late 2020s by investing in more transmission between Burnie and Hampshire Hills, in addition to TasNetworks' stage 1 North West Transmission Development. This network infrastructure will enable more generation to meet our growing energy needs and allow further export of electricity to the rest of the NEM.

The proposed REZ infrastructure between Burnie and Hampshire Hills will complement the North West Transmission Development (NWTD) by providing a point of connection for new renewables projects that seek to locate in the REZ, such that they can utilise the NWTD's increased transmission capacity.

The cost of the REZ infrastructure is currently being determined through a tender process run by TasNetworks. It is proposed that costs will primarily be recovered from generators locating in the REZ, however, the Government may play a role if not all of the capacity in the line is consumed (i.e. Government may underwrite a prudent amount of the line if necessary).

Supporting new generation through REZ will be complementary to the hydro system and will allow Hydro Tasmania to play a greater role in both supporting new Tasmanian demand when renewable energy is not producing and playing this same role in the mainland National Electricity Market. The offshore wind projects currently considering locating in Bass Strait are generally in earlier stages of development but would be likely to play a role in large scale industrial development, like hydrogen or the expansion of existing major industrial customers.

The coexistence of renewable energy projects with local and cultural values, and regional priorities is the goal of REZ. A successful REZ will involve extensive community consultation, allowing residents to voice their concerns and provide input on REZ location, transmission corridors and the siting of generation projects. This collaborative approach builds community understanding, delivers community benefits through REZ projects contributing to regional funds and minimises negative social and environmental impacts. Tailoring a REZ and future projects to match the community's vision ensures coexistence and best practice infrastructure development.

The collective impact of multi-project development in a REZ is acknowledged and can be managed through both choosing the most prospective candidate areas for hosting and requiring management plans. Public input continues to be crucial in identifying local risks and mitigation methods.

Other

The REZ approach seeks to consolidate development into areas assessed and consulted upon as suitable and which minimise the amount of transmission required across Tasmania. Developers within a REZ will need to address visual impacts as part of their approvals. Developers use landscape design, buffer zones, and other measures to ensure that projects blend with the natural surroundings and minimise any adverse visual impact. Building projects within a REZ would require developers to work with the community to address visual impact concerns. With regards to the Burnie to Hampshire Hill REZ transmission infrastructure, this will largely use an existing transmission easement.

While a REZ promotes economic growth and attracting workers and families to the host region, its direct impact on population growth depends on various factors. Government agencies, local councils and other representative bodies will assess and address housing and healthcare concerns to ensure balanced and sustainable development that aligns with community needs. Another mechanism a REZ aims to utilise is a Community Benefit Scheme (CBS) to help deliver services that may be impacted by the REZ. CBS requires projects to contribute to a regional fund and community is involved in shaping where funds are deployed. This could be targeted to priority areas such as housing and healthcare, if that’s what the north west community decides.

A REZ will support more coordinated renewable energy development to ensure that the lowest cost new generation is provided to meet growing needs. The generation in the REZ will contribute to lower costs across the NEM, with modelling by Marinus Link suggesting that with Marinus and access to Tasmanian renewables and its dispatchable capacity, there will be a $10-$20/MWh reduction in prices relative to outcomes in the absence of access to additional Tasmanian generation.

Proposed REZ

The proposed REZ reflects geographical boundaries based on good wind and solar resources, covering areas with compatible land uses, and minimal impact on natural, heritage and social values. A comprehensive geographic information system analysis involving various data layers was used, including environment and biodiversity, land use, Aboriginal culture and heritage, and social inputs. Over 60 data layers informed the boundaries.

Click through to the methodology report here.

The proposed REZ would be the first Tasmanian REZ. It was informed by a spatial mapping process that considered existing land uses and values and was highlighted strongly by community through the first Mapping Important Places initiative as a good host area. The proposed REZ also surrounds the Burnie to Hampshire Hills section of what is to be the second stage of the North West Transmission Development. Existing proponents have indicated a desire for this section to be built sooner to provide a place to plug in to the network and access the north west hosting capacity. This line would be built as part of the REZ.

The proposed area has a very high proportion of area suitable for development, subject to project approvals. There are areas within the proposed REZ that are of high value and must be avoided when considering project siting. For example, sites of protected habitat, threatened species and cultural heritage sites.

They are still within the proposed REZ due to the nature of the model and analysis we used to determine the REZ boundaries.

The detailed methodology can be found here.

We understand this information is very technical. Please get in touch with our REZ team at rez@recfit.tas.gov.au if you have any further questions.

For Community

Community feedback is playing a pivotal role in shaping the REZ boundary and informing the benefits sought from hosting a REZ. While the proposed REZ is technically suitable, understanding local expectations and benefits is essential. Public input will be integrated into the final boundary and REZ recommendation.

Until July 2024 there will be a secondary Mapping Important Places initiative that seeks feedback on the proposed REZ boundary. We strongly encourage all community members to input places of value, or places suitable for renewable energy development.

You can actively participate in REZ engagement and stay informed about upcoming information sessions. We want to ensure that your voice is heard in the discussions and decision-making processes. Your involvement can shape a future that respects local needs and regional aspirations. Sign up to receive REZ updates here, and to provide any feedback see our consultation hub here.

The Tasmanian Government is committed to ensuring all community members can participate in ongoing consultation about REZ and renewable energy. If you cannot attend in-person pop-ups or do not have access to a computer, alternative options, such as attending a library to view information, a phone conversation or via post and/or written feedback, is available.

The Tasmanian Government recognises the importance of engaging with Aboriginal communities and protecting cultural heritage. ReCFIT continues to engage with Aboriginal representatives in the north west, including receiving valuable input into how we collectively define REZ, its spatial boundaries and how a north west REZ is characterised through cultural perspectives. This collaboration ensures the preservation of Aboriginal heritage and values when defining REZ.

Your contributions to the Mapping Important Places initiative directly influences government decision-making. This is consistent with the Guidelines which focuses on the voice of community. Similar efforts in other jurisdictions have highlighted the value of community insights in shaping government decisions related to renewable energy. Your input is crucial in tailoring planning for the most suitable places to establish REZ, ultimately ensuring alignment with community values and interests. This participatory mapping approach stands as one of four pillars underpinning accountable and transparent decision-making. To view the themes from the initial Mapping Important Places initiative and provide further feedback. See the summary report here.

For Landholders

The impacts of REZ on specific landholders are not yet known. The impact on individual properties will depend on the proposed location of projects, which would be determined by proponents through engagement with landholders and then formalised through subsequent landholder agreements.

We will ensure that landowners that fall within and surround the geographic boundaries of the proposed REZ area will be actively engaged to shape the finalised REZ and are informed of potential opportunities and impacts.

Landholders are under no obligation to be a renewable energy host and proponents will be expected to work with you if you are a neighbouring property holder to a wind or solar farm.

To see our landholder information pack, click here.

If you have a land interest and have ideas or concerns, please tell us by making a submission here.

The establishment of a REZ does not mean your property will be acquired for renewable projects or that you have to take any action. The impact on individual properties will depend on the proposed location of projects, which would be determined by proponents through landholder engagement. Further community and targeted landholder engagement will be crucial to address concerns and provide clarity on property impacts, once the Government makes a decision on declaring a REZ in the north west.

To express your interest in being a host landholder for a renewable project within the REZ please follow this link.

For Industry

The Tasmanian Government will release a draft REZ market design for targeted consultation in early June 2024. This includes a proposed access scheme, cost sharing arrangements, and infrastructure delivery commitments.

All projects within the REZ would undergo standard planning and environmental approval processes as set out in the Renewable Energy Approvals Pathway. The REZ streamlines approval by providing an existing geographical area with higher likelihood for gaining social licence, ensuring pre-consultation on community benefits occurs and offers an attractive market design for developers.

Developing in a REZ does not mean that projects are able to bypass approval processes that are in place to protect existing land uses, environment and community values.

The proposed REZ boundary determines whether existing projects are eligible to connect to the REZ. There may be existing projects already considering areas within the REZ and these would be eligible assuming they haven't already progressed to a point where commercial or infrastructure decisions have been set.