Planned Asian Renewable Energy Hub increases capacity

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The consortium behind the plan to create the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) in Western Australia’s Pilbara region in is increasing its generation capacity with the additional 3GW to be reserved for the domestic market.

The AREH project is set to expand to include an additional 3GW of capacity, which is targeted to supply large energy users in the Pilbara.

The project is being developed by a consortium which includes Intercontinental Energy, Vestas and CWP Energy Asia.

The consortium is working with the Pilbara Development Commission to ensure the AREH project delivers maximum economic benefit to the Pilbara.

This is expected to complement and expand the vision for the export of renewable energy from the Pilbara to South East Asia via subsea electrical cables.

Under the new plan, the project’s generation capacity will expand from 6GW to 9GW, with the additional 3GW being reserved for large energy users in the Pilbara.

This will allow mine expansions, the addition of upscale value-added processing, and potentially also the production of hydrogen for domestic and export markets.

The 9GW of generation will comprise 6GW of wind generation and 3GW of solar PV generation, which will produce approximately 33TWh of energy each year.

Pilbara Development Commission Chairperson, Brendan Hammond, welcomed the news that a domestic energy component had been added to the scope of the AREH project plan.

“The Energy Hub project capitalises on the Pilbara’s natural wind and solar assets and is directly aligned with the region’s vision for diversified and sustainable economic development,” Mr Hammond said.

“It is an exciting opportunity to boost the business competitiveness of the Pilbara by significantly lowering the cost of energy.

“Such an outcome will result in the extension of existing mineral and oil/gas reserves, bring new extractive opportunities into play, and allow a diversified downstream economy that is ultimately independent of natural resource exploitation to be built both regionally and state-wide.

“In addition to these commercial and economic benefits the positive environmental impact is expected to be very considerable and of national significance.”

AREH Project Director, Alex Tancock, said, “With recent increases in wind turbine size and capacity, we have been able to add another 2GW of wind turbines and 1GW of solar arrays to the existing project site.

“The large scale of our project, together with excellent and complementary wind and solar resources, will allow us to generate clean electricity very cost competitively, day and night. This will provide more options for domestic energy use as well as for export, both as electricity and potentially also as hydrogen.”

The AREH project continues to gather momentum, with the completion of onshore site ecology surveys, the completion of the nearshore seabed surveys for the subsea cable, the lodgement of environmental referrals to the WA and Commonwealth Governments and the opening of a consortium office in Jakarta.

The Environmental Impact Assessment for the project is expected to be submitted to the Western Australian Government in mid-2018.

Financial Close for the project is anticipated in 2020/21, and the construction is anticipated to commence in 2023. 

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