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Business envoy

Asian Renewable Energy Hub

Can Australia’s transition to clean energy exports benefit Indigenous Australians?

As large scale clean energy projects grow in scale and move northwards, they are increasingly moving onto the ‘Indigenous Estate’. This presents new opportunities to weave Indigenous communities tightly into the economic opportunities that these projects offer.

The Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) is one such project. AREH will consist of more than 26GW of wind and solar generation on a 6,500 hectare site in the Pilbara. Its clean energy is destined for local and export markets, in both electrical and chemical forms.

Export markets include green ammonia for use as a low carbon shipping fuel, and for reducing the combustion emissions in power stations and industrial furnaces, in Japan and other regional markets. Local markets include clean electricity and hydrogen for the mining and refining of minerals, metal and other resources. Cheap, clean energy can reduce the costs of existing operations, enable significantly expanded electrification of existing operations and support new energy-intensive industries in the Pilbara, including green steel production and aluminium refining.

The AREH project is located on Nyangumarta land between Broome and Port Hedland. An Indigenous Land Use Agreement, currently being negotiated between the AREH consortium and the Nyangumarta people, will enable the traditional owners to participate in the project and share its benefits. Being a renewable energy project, the resource will not deplete, so the benefits will be multi-generational.

AREH is being developed by a consortium consisting of Intercontinental Energy, CWP Energy Asia, Vestas and Pathway Investments. The project commenced development in 2014 and has involved close engagement with the Nyangumarta people from the very beginning. It will be constructed in multiple phases over a decade, with the first Financial Investment Decision expected in 2025.

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