Green energy hub in WA ‘could power Australia,’ expert says

Solar panels in a green field

A proposed renewable energy project on Western Australia’s south coast will have the capacity to produce the equivalent of enough power for the whole country, Curtin University professor of sustainability, Peter Newman said.

The proposed project is larger than the world’s biggest hybrid energy operation, and would have the capacity to produce up to 50 gigawatts of energy all sourced from the local area.

Such a capacity would stand around 12 times higher than the current size of the West Australian power grid. Although Newman says the project could theoretically power Australia, the plan for the energy produced is a mix between local usage and international export.

More renewable energy for WA?

When fully operational, the Western Green Energy Hub is planned to produce hybrid wind and solar power across 15,000-square-kilometres in South-East Western Australia,
to the Shires of Dundas and the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

In October last year, the combined output of solar and wind energy overtook the fossil fuel sources of coal and gas generation in Western Australia for the first time. The state currently sits second in the country in rooftop solar power penetration, although it sits fourth in terms of total energy sourced from renewables, with Tasmania leading the way at over 99%.

The south coast of Western Australia was chosen due to its consistent high levels of solar and wind energy over a 24-hour period, according to the proposal. The project aims to deliver socio-economic benefits to its local areas as well as boost the WA State Government’s Renewable Hydrogen plan and the Australian Government’s National Hydrogen plan.

An international consortium composed of InterContinental Energy, CWP Global and Mirning Green Energy Limited are behind the project with plans to split the energy produced between domestic and international markets.

The project is not guaranteed to go ahead

A similar project proposed for the Pilbara was knocked back over concerns it could impact the local environment, but professor Newman said he was more optimistic that this project could go ahead.

“We know that this can be the start of something. I think it'll get there but you're talking a couple of years,” professor Newman said.

The project currently projects a total build out cost of US$70billion, with a final investment date (FID) target set for post 2028.

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