World-leading Pilbara renewables hub given EPA approval

Sam JonesNorth West Telegraph
Solar panels at Gold Fields' Granny Smith mine near Laverton
Camera IconSolar panels at Gold Fields' Granny Smith mine near Laverton

A massive solar and wind project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region that’s tipped to create thousands of jobs has taken a major step forward, gaining state environmental approval for its first stage of works.

The 15GW first stage of the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, a large-scale wind and solar hybrid renewable energy project near Port Hedland, will combine wind turbines, solar panels, above and below-ground transmission cables and four subsea power cables intended to export hydrogen to southeast Asia.

The approval marks a major step forward for the project, which plans to eventually expand to 26GW of renewable wind and solar, providing energy to service industry in the Pilbara and markets in Asia with green hydrogen and ammonia.

The proposal estimates up to 5000 direct construction jobs during the 10-year project construction period, with 3000 direct jobs created for the 50-plus year operational period.

Almost 12,000 hectares of native vegetation will be cleared if the project goes ahead, with up to 1743 wind turbines to be located 26 kilometres from Eighty Mile Beach.

The move follows the WA Recovery Plan initiatives to bring forward the Western Australian Renewable Hydrogen Strategy goals from 2040 to 2030.

Plans for the first stage of the project, which the State Government granted Lead Agency Status in 2018, include 10GW of wind generation and 5GW of solar generation.

At least 3GW of the power generated is expected to be made available cheaply for Pilbara users.

The scale of the project will enable the creation of new supply chain facilities for the manufacturing and assembly of equipment for wind and solar generation and for hydrogen production.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the project would transform the Pilbara, creating thousands of jobs and prove a major contributor to global efforts to decarbonise the economy.

“The project partners have extensive experience developing wind and solar farms globally, and today’s environmental approval is a major step forward,” she said.

“This development will demonstrate Western Australia’s credentials as a world-class investment destination for the green energy generation, including the production of exportable commodities, like green hydrogen and ammonia, and green steel manufacturing.

“It will put Western Australia on the map as a major contributor to lowerting global carbon emissions.”

Most of the project infrastructure is in the Shire of East Pilbara, with an infrastructure corridor proposed to pass through the Shire of Broome to the coast to provide an offshore export terminal.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails