Australian banking giant Macquarie Group has joined a consortium of renewable energy leaders including Intercontinental Energy, Vestas, and CWP Energy Asia in investing in the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, a wind and solar hybrid power plant set to be built in Australia’s northwest which has been expanded once again to over 11 gigawatts (GW) in planned capacity.
First announced towards the end of last year — though in development since 2014 — the Asian Renewable Energy Hub was originally supposed to have a total capacity of 6 GW — 4 GW of wind power and 2 GW of solar capacity. The project was conceived with the sole intention of exporting its electricity production to Indonesia via subsea electrical cables, making the most of the copious swathes of empty and sunny countryside in the northwest of the country.
Since then, the project’s planned capacity has been upped to 9 GW and now, with Macquarie Group’s decision to invest in the project, to 11 GW — made up of over 7.5 GW worth of wind capacity and over 3.5 GW worth of solar, generating 40 terawatt-hours (TWh) of clean energy each year for export beyond simply Indonesia, as the project now plans to export 6 GW to South East Asia and 5 GW to large energy users in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. As the October 8 press release explains, “The hub still retains significant generation for direct export to South East Asia via subsea electrical cables, but the emphasis on support for domestic economic growth has grown.”
“The Asian Renewable Energy Hub will supply large scale, low cost, clean energy to enable customers in the Pilbara to grow, unlocking billions of dollars of investment potential throughout the region,” explained Hub Director Alex Tancock. “We are excited to have Macquarie Group joining as a consortium member.”
“Renewable energy is a key economic diversification opportunity for the Pilbara which capitalises on existing natural wind and solar assets,” added Pilbara Development Commission Chairperson, Brendan Hammond. “Producing renewable energy in the region would boost the business competitiveness of the Pilbara by significantly lowering the cost of energy to accelerate the rate development in not only mining, but other emerging industries.”
We’re not going to see movement on the project for a while, however, with Financial Close for the first phase of the hub anticipated for 2021 and construction to begin in 2023 and to be completed over a 6 to 7 year period.