Australian Renewable Energy Hub (Project Renamed)
Australian 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.).
NW Interconnected Power Pty Ltd: company shareholders include bp (Operator), Intercontinental Energy, CWP Global, and Macquarie Capital and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group
|Main end-use classification:
Export potential (hydrogen derivatives, including ammonia)
Local potential in the Pilbara (renewable electricity, hydrogen and ammonia)
At full scale (of potential project generating capacity of 26GW), the project could be capable of producing 1.6 million tonnes of renewables-based hydrogen or 9 million tonnes of (renewables-based) ammonia per annum
Western Australia, Australia
(This project was previously titled ‘Asian Renewable Energy Hub’).
A project consortium (with bp as project Operator) is developing the Australian 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 shareholders bp (Operator), Intercontinental Energy, CWP Global, and Macquarie Capital and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group.
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.
In 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 AREH. 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.
At full capacity (total generating capacity of up to 26GW), the project would be capable of producing around 1.6 million tonnes of renewables-based hydrogen or 9 million tonnes of (renewables-based) ammonia per annum. At full capacity, the project could be expected to abate around 17 million tonnes of carbon per annum in global markets.
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 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.
In June 2022, it was announced that bp would take a 40.5% shareholding in the project and Operatorship (with an original partner Vestas leaving the project).
Updated (for name change): December 2022