26 GW Wind-Solar Complex In Australia In Trouble

Citing Environment Protection & Biodiversity Concerns, Australian Government Stops 26 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub In Its Tracks

26 GW Wind-Solar Complex In Australia In Trouble

After giving it major project status in 2020, the Government of Australia has now rejected 26 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub calling it clearly unacceptable for local habitat. (Illustrative Photo; Photo Credit: zhengzaishuru/Shutterstock.com)

  • Federal Government of Australia has rejected 26 GW AREH project in East Pilbara
  • It believes the project would negatively impact local wetlands, migratory birds, and groundwater surface water flows
  • According to Clean Energy Council, the project was rejected before detailed environmental studies were concluded

One of the most ambitious and largest renewable energy projects in the world, Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) in East Pilbara with its 26 GW of proposed wind and solar power generation, has trouble brewing, as the federal government’s Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley has found it ‘clearly unacceptable’.

In a notification released by the government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the minister said the proposed action (AREH) will have clearly unacceptable impacts on wetlands, migratory birds, and groundwater and surface water flows. Interestingly, the AREH was granted major project status by the federal Government of Australia in 2020.

“I am of the view that the impacts of the proposed action on matters of national environmental significance are clearly unacceptable because the action would result in unavoidable, permanent and irreversible damage on the Eighty-mile Beach Ramsar site that provides critical habitat to survival of migratory birds,” reads Ley’s statement.

Originally, the AREH was proposed to have 9 GW of wind and solar power capacity, later growing to 11 GW, then 15 GW and eventually 26 GW to produce and export 23 GW of green hydrogen and green ammonia (see Asian Renewable Energy Hub To Grow To 26 GW). It is proposed to have up to 10,800 MW solar PV in 18×1600 MW arrays, and 1,743 wind turbines 700m apart.

AREH is being planned by InterContinental Energy, CWP Global, Vestas and Pathway Investments, and was initially planning to export clean energy generated to sell to Singapore and Indonesia through subsea cables. Later on, it changed plans to use wind and solar power generation to generate green hydrogen and green ammonia to be exported.

The department points out that the proposed project will have a permanent clearing footprint of 20,748 hectare land out of 666,030 hectares project site. There will be a downstream plant comprising a desalination plant and ammonia production and storage facility, linked with a proposed marine infrastructure corridor to an offshore export platform via a pipeline intersecting the Eighty-mile Beach Ramsar intertidal site.

According to The Guardian, this rejection of the project would now prompt the project partners to significantly revamp their plans if they want to realize it.

Reuters referred to a statement by the AREH consortium wherein they say they are now working to understand the minister’s concerns, and will engage further with the minister and her department ‘as we continue to work on the detailed design and engineering aspects of the project’.

Australia’s Clean Energy Council called AREH as a ‘transformative economic opportunity’ for the country but shared its understanding that the rejection of the expanded proposal came before the completion of detailed environmental studies. It now seeks urgent clarification from the minister ‘to address the perception that this decision is inconsistent with well-established processes or with the treatment of non-renewable projects’.

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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