WA's environmental watchdog has recommended approval for a solar and wind project in the Pilbara. Image by AP PHOTO

Energy

Environmental tick for WA renewable hub

2020-05-05 12:57:54

A massive solar and wind project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has been recommended for approval by the state’s environmental watchdog.

The proposed $22 billion Asian Renewable Energy Hub combines wind turbines, solar panels, above and below-ground transmission cables and four subsea power cables intended to export hydrogen to southeast Asia.

Global consortium partners Intercontinental Energy, Vestas, CWP Energy Asia and Macquarie Bank say the project will also generate clean energy for Pilbara-based miners.

The Environmental Protection Authority on Monday recommended approval for the project, subject to conditions including managing and monitoring impacts on migratory birds.

Almost 12,000 hectares of native vegetation will be cleared if the project goes ahead, with up to 1743 wind turbines to be located 26 kilometres from Eighty Mile Beach.

Any potential impacts to migratory birds were considered manageable, the EPA said in a statement.

The report also considered the impact on marine environmental quality and fauna from the installation and operation of the subsea cables.

Approval conditions include developing a fire management plan, monitoring the impact on birds from the wind operation turbines and rehabilitating the site.

The state’s environment minister will make the final decision on the proposal.

A final investment decision is expected in 2025 and construction is due to begin the following year, creating an estimated 3000 jobs over a 10-year period.