The state government in Western Australia has issued planning approvals for the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, a vast solar, wind, and green hydrogen production complex whose backers have increased their long-term production target to 26 gigawatts.
“The project would be a major paradigm shift in both Australia’s energy exports and the development of the local clean energy sector, building a project at unprecedented scale and targeting the production of clean energy for international users,” RenewEconomy reports. It would be “by far Australia’s largest energy development, and would require as much as A$30 billion in investment to fund its construction.”
The first phase of the project, to be built by a consortium that includes global wind turbine giant Vestas and project developer CWP Energy Asia, will locate 10,000 megawatts of new wind capacity and 5,000 of solar across 6,500 square kilometres of Western Australia’s Pilbara region, “as the developers seek to capitalize on an emerging market for Australian renewable energy exports, including green hydrogen,” the Melbourne-based publication states.
The hub is expected to create 5,000 construction jobs over a 10-year period, and another 3,000 jobs over a 50-year operational life, and has state officials thinking about the new industries such an ample supply of electricity could support.
“The Asian Renewable Energy Hub could transform the Pilbara, create thousands of jobs, and be a major contributor to global efforts to decarbonize the economy,” said Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan. “This development will demonstrate Western Australia’s credentials as a world-class investment destination for green energy generation, including the production of exportable commodities like green hydrogen and ammonia and green steel manufacturing,” while putting the state “on the map as a major contributor to lowering global carbon emissions.”
At least 3,000 MW out of the initial output will be used in the Pilbara itself, home to some of the country’s biggest industrial energy consumers. But “ultimately, the project will look to supply power into the Asian region,” RenewEconomy says, “with developers saying there was more than enough demand for new electricity projects within the Asian region to support up to 26 GW at the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, as well as the 10-GW Sun Cable project” under development by a different group of investors.