There are a large number of ongoing high capacity wind energy and solar-PV projects in Australia. As reported previously, the Asian Renewable Energy Hub is such a 15 GW project (2 GW solar + 12 GW wind energy from 1,700 Vestas turbines) that was in planning stages since 2014 in the Pilbara region. Initially, the project was aimed to export clean energy to Jakarta and Singapore. However, now its planned to cater the needs of domestic industrial clients (mines, mineral processing and green hydrogen production firms). Out of the total 15,000 MW of energy generation, 3,000 MW is for the Pilbara region. The project is developed by NW Interconnected Power, a consortium comprising of CWP Energy Asia, Intercontinental Energy, Vestas and Macquaire.
In early May 2020, the Environmental Protection Authority in Western Australia has provided environmental approval for the project. This is subject to conditions, which includes continuous monitoring and reporting of the impacts of its wind turbines on migratory birds in consultation with landowners. This is one of the largest renewable energy project reviewed by the WA EPA. The other core environmental concerns under review included a) the 11,000 ha of vegetation clearance (1.81% of the total project development area of 662,400 ha), b) fire management, c) impact on natural habitats at the project site that is home to endangered species and d) impact of under-water habitats where the sub-sea cables would be installed.. To counter these, mitigation strategies like staged fire management and low-impact installation methods like hydro plough have been also proposed. The decision of EPA is still open to public appeal. After the final approval by the environmental ministry, the project is expected to start construction in 2024 with a development and operational phase of 10 and 50 years respectively.