Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has filed environmental documents with the West Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to build the multibillion-dollar Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub.
Plans for the renewable energy hub, to be built near the coastal town of Onslow and 170 km west of the Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) Eliwana mine site, have this week been released for public comment by the West Australian Environmental Protection Authority.
The proposal is to construct and operate a renewable energy hub comprising an enormous 3.33GW solar farm and a 2.04 GW wind farm spread across approximately 10,000 hectares. The hub would also include a battery with a storage capacity of 9.1GWh.
A 220kV transmission line would connect the Uaroo Hub main substation to a substation at the Eliwana mining operations. The transmission line has not been included in the EPA submission.
FMG said the Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub will provide renewable energy to power its mining operations in the Pilbara and is a critical component of it achieving net zero emissions from its mining operations by 2030.
It is expected the Uaroo project will reduce the miner’s current annual carbon emissions of 2.2 million tons by at least 1.5 million tons by the end of this decade.
“The proposal is an essential step toward FMG’s larger goal of supporting the rapid uptake of zero-carbon fuels globally,” the company said in its submission to the EPA.
FMG said it had has previously considered alternative energy sources to power its mining operations, but said the Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub is a “compelling option” and hoped the project would inspire others to implement similar solutions, as they too target net-zero operations.
“Renewable energy is now, in many cases, the lowest-cost form of energy available, making its uptake a contributor to financial performance as well as climate health,” the company said. “The proposal will demonstrate the viability of zero-carbon technologies in fuelling commercial-scale operations and will encourage other proponents to follow suit.”
FMG said the project has been scaled to provide a reliable power supply source to satisfy the miner’s operational needs, with consideration given to the variability of wind speeds and the restriction of solar power generation to daylight hours.
FMG said construction of the Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub will commence after it secures all necessary approvals. The renewable energy generation and electricity transmission infrastructure will be constructed and commissioned in stages, with works anticipated to run for approximately seven years.
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