Asian Renewable Energy Hub

March 12th, 2022

Asian Renewable Energy Hub

This project would construct, in phases, a large-scale hybrid renewable energy facility to enable export of hydrogen derivatives (e.g. ammonia) and for local use in the Pilbara region (e.g. to enable large-scale mine electrification, replacement of diesel fuels with hydrogen, bunkering of ammonia shipping fuels, etc.).

Main proponents:

NW Interconnected Power Pty Ltd

Main end-use classification:

Export potential (hydrogen derivatives, including ammonia)

Local potential in the Pilbara (renewable electricity, hydrogen and ammonia)

Status:

Under development – first energy exports are anticipated in 2027/28

Estimated cost:

 

Other involvement:

 

Production details: Location:

Western Australia, Australia

Announced funding:

 

Project description

NW Interconnected Power Pty Ltd is developing the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) project. The proposal is to construct and operate a large-scale wind and solar hybrid renewable energy facility about 220 kilometres (km) east of Port Hedland, in the northwest of Western Australia.

Much of its renewable energy would be converted into hydrogen and ammonia for export. Energy would also be delivered into the Pilbara region as electrons and hydrogen, to enable large-scale mine electrification, the replacement of imported diesel fuels with locally produced hydrogen, and facilitate mineral and metal processing and higher-value exports.

The project proponent, NW Interconnected Power, comprises CWP Energy Asia (an Australian renewable energy developer), Intercontinental Energy (a privately-owned developer of renewable energy hubs), Vestas (a large Danish wind turbine manufacturer) and Pathway Investments (a private investor).

The development proposal was initiated in 2014 and originally proposed the export of renewable electricity to Indonesia and Singapore via sub-sea high voltage cable. Whilst export of electrons via subsea cables is still possible, in 2018, the project pivoted primarily to the export of hydrogen derivatives. This alteration removed the export capacity constraint, and the proposed project capacity increased from 6 Gigawatts (GW) to 15GW and then again to 26GW.

Environmental approval of the (first) 15GW of generation capacity was received in late 2020. Approvals for expanded capacity and its hydrogen and ammonia production and export facilities are anticipated in 2023/24. The project would be constructed in phases over approximately a decade, with the first final investment decision (FID) expected in 2025/26, with first energy exports anticipated in 2028.

In late April 2020, an assessment report prepared by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of Western Australia recommended the implementation of the proposed hybrid wind and solar development, provided implementation is carried out in accordance with recommended conditions and procedures.

The EPA recommendation for approval is for 15GW of hybrid generation and HVDC cables to State waters (consistent with the original project vision) and includes the following key elements:

  • up to 1,743 wind turbines, each being up to 260 metres from ground to top rotation limit
  • 2,000 megawatt (MW) of solar photovoltaic capacity that would be divided into 37 x 55MW individual solar arrays
  • four high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cables offshore
  • HVDC converter station to convert alternating current generated onsite into direct current to allow export
  • up to 37 step-up substations distributed over the site
  • up to 1,514 km of site access tracks to link the wind turbines with other infrastructure
  • the development envelope would be approximately 662,400 hectares.

In October 2020, a Ministerial Statement approved the development proposal subject to the implementation of the conditions and procedures included in the Statement.

In October 2020, the project proponent submitted a referral to the EPA seeking to revise its approved proposal to develop the Asian Renewable Energy Hub. The revised proposal is similar to the original proposal, in that it remains as the construction and operation of a large-scale wind and solar hybrid renewable energy project for the export of clean energy, at the same site as the original proposal.

Key revisions include:

  • addition of downstream processing facilities utilising seawater and renewable power to produce green hydrogen and ammonia as stored renewable energy, replacing the transmission of power to Southeast Asia in the original proposal;
  • original proposal export power cables replaced with desalination plant intake and discharge pipelines, and ammonia product export pipelines and loadout, extending into Commonwealth waters to ship loadout facilities approximately 20 km offshore;
  • expansion of the solar arrays compared to the original proposal;
  • replacement of fly-in/fly-out or drive-in/drive out construction and operations workforce models with construction of a new company town to accommodate the revised proposal workforce; and
  • provision of at least 3GW of power generation capacity to be reserved for use in the Pilbara.

The revised proposal would be implemented within a development envelope approximately 668,100 ha in size, a small increase on the development envelope of the original proposal.

In May 2021, in line with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), referral documentation was submitted to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. In June 2021, a Ministerial Notification noted that the updated project scope as submitted in the referral was unacceptable.

The proponent has advised that it is working with the Australian Government in addressing points made in the Notification and will modify or resubmit appropriate details in due course.

 

Updated: March 2022