Australian clean energy investor Pollination has announced it will build a 900 MW solar farm as part of the proposed $3 billion (USD 2.05 billion) East Kimberley Clean Energy Project that it says will be Australia’s first 100% renewable energy hydrogen and ammonia production hub.
The project, being developed near the town of Kununurra, is expected to commence operations in 2028, targeting 50,000 tonnes of green hydrogen and 250,000 tonnes of green ammonia per annum for domestic and export markets.
The East Kimberley Clean Energy Project will be planned, created and managed by the Aboriginal Clean Energy (ACE) partnership, a new company in which equal shares are held by the traditional owners of the land where the project is to be built.
The MG Corporation, representing the Miriuwung and Gajerron people, and the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation will each own a 25% stake in the ACE, as will the Kimberley Land Council and Pollination.
Pollination Head of Projects Rob Grant said the “first-of-its-kind partnership” provides a model for infrastructure projects in Australia that will ensure traditional owners benefit from the scale and pace of the transition to renewable energy.
“This project represents a just, ambitious and achievable vision for Australia’s clean energy future,” he said. “It leverages natural advantages and existing energy and port infrastructure already in place in the East Kimberley region to create a major new clean energy export hub that will help Australia and our region decarbonise, grow new industries and ensure transitional owners and local residents are shareholders, not just stakeholders, in the benefits.”
Grant said the involvement of the traditional owner groups directly in the project also offers attractive prospects to investors by mitigating risks associated with land use agreements and approvals.
The first stage of the project will involve building a 900 MW solar farm – more than double the size of the country’s biggest so far built – and a 50,000 tonnes per year green hydrogen plant on MG Corporation freehold land near Kununurra.
The resulting solar energy will be combined with fresh water from Lake Kununurra and hydro energy from the existing Ord Hydro Power Plant at Lake Argyle to produce green hydrogen that will then be transported through a new 120-kilometre pipeline to the “export ready” Port of Wyndham. There it will be converted into green ammonia.
About 250,000 tonnes of green ammonia is expected to be produced annually for both domestic and export markets in the fertilisers and explosives sectors.
While the project’s feasibility and funding are still pending, construction is expected to begin in late 2025, with hydrogen production starting by late 2028.
Grant said scoping studies have already been completed to define the project concept, and feasibility studies will now commence, including 12 months of environmental, engineering and approvals work.
The announcement of the project comes just 24 hours after the traditional owners of Yindjibarndi lands announced they would team with Philippines-based energy giant ACEN Corporation to develop more than 3 GW of wind, solar and battery storage in WA’s Pilbara region.
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