The Australian environment department has rejected plans for an 11GW expansion to a wind-and-solar powered hydrogen and ammonia complex in Western Australia.
It decided against the full 26GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub due to “unacceptable impacts” on wetlands and migratory bird species.
The federal and state governments had already approved an initial 15GW of capacity, but the national environment department has now rejected the planned 11GW expansion.
The developers – a consortium of Hong Kong-based developer Intercontinental Energy, Australian counterpart CWP Renewables, Pathway Investments and Vestas — told Windpower Monthly: “We are now working to understand the minister’s concerns, and we will engage further with the minister and her department as we continue to work on the detailed design and engineering aspects of the project.”
They had planned for the project to eventually comprise 16GW of wind power capacity and 10GW of solar PV capacity, to power electrolysers and produce green hydrogen and ammonia for export to global markets. Initially, it would have comprised 15GW of wind and solar capacity, before being scaled up to the full 26GW.
Australia’s federal government granted the project ‘major project status’ in October 2020, in order to smooth the regulatory process and enable foreign lenders to invest in it.
Western Australia’s state government had granted the project the same status in mid-2018.
Australia’s Clean Energy Council added: “We expect that the Commonwealth will work in partnership with the Asian Renewable Energy Hub to provide the necessary guidance to appropriately assess and address any environmental impacts under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.”