Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has revealed grand plans for a large renewable power station to be built over two of his cattle ranches in Western Australia’s north. It is estimated to cost around $10 billion. To power Fortescue’s large facilities in the Pilbara, the proposed Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub would have 340 wind turbines and a solar farm that could generate up to 5.4 gigawatts. Pilbara Energy (Generation) Pty Ltd, the miner’s energy division, has submitted the plans to WA’s Environmental Protection Authority.
The wind and solar farms would be constructed around 120 kilometres south of Onslow, in the Pilbara, on the Uaroo (247,000 hectares, 610,350 acres) and Emu Creek (125,000 hectares, 308,852 acres) stations. Mr Forrest is believed to be the owner of the Uaroo lease, but would have to negotiate access to Emu Creek. Fortescue Metals Group Limited’s mining activities in the Pilbara will be powered by a renewable energy generation hub that will be built and operated under the proposal.
According to the EPA, the project would have a “disturbance footprint” of up to 10,158 hectares inside a 61,525 hectare development area. The EPA has also been told that during construction, it will need to remove up to 6.5 gigalitres of groundwater at a rate of one gigalitre each year. To fuel Fortescue Metals Group Limited’s mining operations in the Pilbara, construct and operate a renewable energy generation hub. Battery storage, substations, other supporting infrastructure, railways and roadways, and electrical cabling corridors are all part of the company’s objectives.
During its operation, the project will require up to 200 megalitres of groundwater each year. The plan will be up for public discussion for a week, allowing submissions on whether the EPA should examine the project, which is a formality.
Renewable technologies are now supplying or supplementing many on-farm energy requirements, from water pumping to space heating. Increasingly, farmers and ranchers are selling energy (e.g., electricity generated from wind turbines, biofuels, and products from biomass).