Outback Western Australia will be home to one of the world’s largest renewable energy projects after securing a green light from state and federal governments.
The proposed multi-billion dollar Asian Renewable Energy Hub combines wind turbines, solar panels, above- and below-ground transmission cables and four sub-sea power cables intended to export hydrogen from the Pilbara region.
Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews on Friday confirmed “the world’s largest wind and solar energy plant” had been granted ‘major project status’.
“Not only will the plant be able to export at scale, it will also be able to supply industries in the region while creating new job opportunities and economic growth,” she said in a statement.
Canberra’s latest move means there will be a focus on accelerating further project approvals, including allowances for foreign investors.
The WA government has granted environmental approval to the project, subject to conditions including managing and monitoring impacts on migratory birds.
“This project has the potential to help lower global emissions while building a new Australian industry that creates jobs,” Energy Minister Angus Taylor said.
Speaking on behalf of project partner Intercontinental Energy, Alex Tancock said multiple sectors are expected to benefit.
“The falling costs of wind and solar power, our carefully selected locations, and the vast scale of the facility we are building, all mean it’s inevitable we will be able to produce green fuels that are cost competitive with fossil fuels,” Mr Tancock said.
“This will speed up the essential decarbonisation of energy intensive sectors such as shipping, aviation, resource extraction and chemicals.”
Almost 12,000 hectares of native vegetation will be cleared to make way for the planed project, with up to 1743 wind turbines to be located 26 kilometres from Eighty Mile Beach.
Construction is due to begin in 2026, creating an estimated 3000 jobs over 10 years.