Pilot Energy is seeking development approval for the proposed Wheatbelt Solar Farm being developed near the Western Australian town of Three Springs, about 300 kilometres (km) northeast of Perth and 138 km southeast of Geraldton.
The $440 million (USD 290 million) solar project is to comprise approximately 626,000 solar panels mounted on a single-axis tracking system spread across a 530-hectare site located about 30 km east of Three Springs.
ASX-listed Pilot said the proposed Wheatbelt Solar Farm is a key component of the company’s plan to develop the Mid West Clean Energy Project (MWCEP), an ammonia production and export project aiming to produce up to 1 million tonnes per annum of blue ammonia – ammonia produced using gas.
Pilot said the proposed MWCEP project includes two core elements: an offshore carbon capture and storage project that would utilise the company’s existing Cliff Head Oil Field infrastructure to permanently store the CO2 associated with blue ammonia production; and another that utilises the region’s renewable energy resources to make ammonia from blue and green hydrogen.
The company is confident it can deliver the blue project within its existing footprint and using technology sourced from United States energy tech company 8 Rivers can deliver blue hydrogen production by 2028 before moving into green hydrogen production.
Electricity from the proposed Wheatbelt Solar Farm would be transported to the MWCEP ammonia production facility approximately 100 km west via a private mid-voltage transmission network.
The company has indicated it will need about 130 MW of firm power from the blue ammonia project and that will be supplied by renewables.
Pilot plans to start the renewables build-out during the blue phase and then look to expand it as the project moves into green ammonia production.
The paperwork for the solar plant has been filed to the Western Australian Department of Planning and will need to be reviewed and approved by the Regional Joint Development Assessment Panel to progress.
Pilot said the timeframe for the proposed Wheatbelt Solar Farm will depend on what the end use of its output is.
The company has suggested that construction of the project could commence in 2025 or 2026. The project is expected to generate up to 60 jobs during the construction phase.
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