WA land allocation advances plans for 26 GW renewable energy hub


The Western Australian (WA) government has approved the allocation of land for seven mainly green hydrogen-related projects collectively valued at $70 billion (USD 48.35 billion) at two industrial estates near the towns of Port Hedland and Onslow on the Pilbara coast.

Gas and oil major BP, South Korean steel producer Posco, power utility Alinta Energy and United Kingdom-headquartered miner Tees Valley Lithium have all been allocated land at the 4000-hectare Boodarie strategic industrial area (SIA) near Port Hedland on WA’s north coast.

Iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group has also been allocated land at Boodarie while its clean energy offshoot Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has secured land at the 8000-hectare Ashburton North strategic industrial area near Onslow, 530 kilometres south of Port Hedland. Western Gas subsidiary Equus Energy has also secured land at the Ashburton North precinct.

WA Development Minister Roger Cook said providing the land for the projects is an important step in transforming the Boodarie and Ashburton North strategic industrial areas into globally competitive, multi-product industrial precincts.

“The projects across the two SIAs will deliver a range of projects including ammonia, green iron ore, and hydrogen,” he said. “From job creation to growing the local advanced manufacturing industry and servicing international markets, we will see the economic benefits of these land allocations and these projects flow through the WA economy over time.”

The AREH is to be developed on a 6,500-square-kilometre site in the East Pilbara.

Image: bp

BP, which bought a 40.5% stake in the proposed Australian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) in June 2022, welcomed the land allocation, saying it will support the ongoing development of the project, which it said has the potential to be one of the largest renewables and green hydrogen hubs in the world.

“This is a positive move forward,” the company said. “The land provides excellent access to Port Hedland and the proposed Australian Renewable Energy Hub.”

The AREH, which until recently was called the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, is to comprise up to 26 GW of onshore wind and solar power generating capacity. At full capacity, AREH is expected to be capable of producing about 1.6 million tonnes of green hydrogen or 9 million tonnes of green ammonia per annum.

BP intends for the asset to supply renewable power to local mining customers in the Pilbara region and also produce green hydrogen and green ammonia for the domestic market and export to major international users.

Fortescue is said to be considering producing and using green hydrogen at both the Boodarie and Ashburton North sites. The mining giant only last year announced plans to build a 5.4 GW solar, wind and battery energy storage project to power its iron ore mining operations in the Pilbara.

Posco is investing in the green steel supply chain, including using hydrogen in iron ore processing.

Image: Posco

Posco, which also secured land at Port Hedland, has said it plans to use green hydrogen to produce hot briquetted iron, a raw material from iron ore processing.

Posco Chief Executive Officer Jeong-woo Choi said the company plans to increase its investments in Australia in not only raw material for steel making but also across renewable energy, hydrogen and green steel.

Alinta Energy, is considering producing green hydrogen at Boodarie where it already plans to build a 45 MW solar farm and 35 MW battery energy storage system.

Late last year Alinta signed a power purchase agreement with international mining giant BHP which will precipitate the construction of the solar farm and big battery near the utility’s existing gas-fuelled power station at Boodarie, approximately five kilometres southwest of Port Hedland.

The Boodarie and Ashburton SIAs are among 13 similar such industrial precincts across WA. State government development agency DevelopmentWA said the concept is to provide “appropriate locations for investment in strategic, heavy industrial and downstream processing industries.”

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