Australia rejects massive 26-GW wind, solar hub for H2, ammonia export
The location of the Asian Renewable Energy Hub project in Western Australia. Image by Asian Renewable Energy Hub (www.asianrehub.com)
The Australian government has denied an environmental permit to the 26-GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) in Pilbara, Western Australia, which was expanded to incorporate wind and solar generation with the production of green hydrogen and ammonia.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley last week dismissed the USD-36-billion (EUR 30.3bn) proposal on the grounds that it would have “clearly unacceptable impacts” on wetlands designated of international significance and migratory birds in the region.
The massive project’s first stage of 15 GW received environmental approval last October but new permits were required after the developers expanded the original plan and shifted the entire infrastructure to suit the production and export of green hydrogen and ammonia. The updated proposal increases the capacity for solar generation and adds hydrogen and ammonia production plants, as well as desalination and energy storage facilities. The plan also calls for developing a port facility for ammonia and pipelines for its transportation, and building a new town to house workers.
The Asian Renewable Energy Hub was put forward by a consortium formed by renewable energy projects developer CWP Energy Asia, Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX:MQG), green fuels company InterContinental Energy and wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems A/S (CPH:VWS).
The project originally envisaged the installation of 10 GW of wind and 5 GW of solar power capacity. Under development since 2014, its indicative timetable shows that it was expected to enter construction in 2026 in its expanded version, with first exports planned for 2027/28. The developers anticipated taking a financial investment decision in 2025, according to the project’s website.
Commenting on the government’s decision, Australia's Clean Energy Council said on Monday it is seeking “urgent clarification” with the government regarding its stance, adding it expects regulators to work with AREH to assess and address any environmental impacts.
Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.