Australia: Macquarie provides capital for 11 GW Pilbara renewable energy hub

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From pv magazine Australia

Macquarie Group has agreed to provide development capital and take an equity stake in a $22 billion solar+wind hybrid project in north-west Australia, reflecting the growing confidence in the project’s potential.

With the announcement of Macquarie’s commitment to the mega project, called the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH), the project’s generation capacity has been boosted from 9 GW to 11 GW.

This is the second extension of the project’s scale, up from the originally proposed 6 GW.

AREH is now looking to build more than 7.5 GW of wind turbines, and more than 3.5 GW of solar PV arrays, which together will generate more than 40 TWh hours of competitively priced clean energy per annum.

Macquarie has joined the consortium behind the project, comprising Danish wind turbines giant Vestas and privately owned Intercontinental Energy and Australia’s renewables developer CWP Energy Asia. The value of its commitment was not disclosed.

“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. We are excited to have Macquarie Group joining as a consortium member,” Hub Director Alex Tancock said.

Originally conceived to export renewable electricity to Jakarta and Singapore via subsea high voltage DC cables, the AREH has now shifted its focus to domestic industry consumers, with more than a half of its output now allocated for existing and new energy users in the Pilbara, including mines, mineral processing and anticipated large scale production of green hydrogen, which is recognized as Australia’s major export opportunity.

The project, which has been in the planning stages since 2014, aims to win environmental approval from the state of Western Australia by the end of 2019 and secure financing around 2021. The wind and solar hub would be built in phases over a six or seven year period.