This story was originally published in The West Australian on 1 May 2018 with the headline "Pilbara wind hub eyes local market." © Peter Milne.
Backers of a giant Pilbara wind and solar farm that will send electricity to Indonesia also want to power local industry and produce hydrogen through a 50 per cent capacity increase which bolsters the project’s budget to about $20 billion.
The Asian Renewable Energy Hub plans to install six gigawatts of wind generation, from about 1250 turbines, and 3GW of solar panels on a 6400sqkm East Pilbara site. The hub’s backers, wind farm investor CWP Energy Asia, privately owned Intercontinental Energy, and Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, are targeting a final investment decision in 2020 or 2021.
The initial plan was to only send power to Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, through two high voltage direct current subsea cables.
The extra generation could power mines, minerals processing or the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. Hydrogen produced by renewable energy is attracting increasing interest as a greenhouse-friendly fuel.
CWP business development manager Andrew Dickson said exporting power would cost about $15 billion, including the subsea cables, and the domestic generation and overhead transmission lines about $5 billion.
He said the 3GW capacity to Java would export an average of 2.1GW over a year and 2GW of overhead transmission capacity would deliver an average of 1.2GW to the Pilbara.