So­lar power ex­port ‘vi­able’

Pilbara News - - News - Cally Dupe

A pri­vate con­sul­tant be­lieves an un­der­sea ca­ble to ex­port so­lar power from the North West to In­done­sia is fi­nan­cially vi­able even with its likely $6 bil­lion-$10 bil­lion con­struc­tion cost.

Geoff James, a con­sul­tant hired by the Pil­bara De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion, said the am­bi­tious sub-sea ca­ble project would es­tab­lish an un­der­wa­ter link to trans­port so­lar power from the Pil­bara and Kim­ber­ley to Java.

He will de­liver a pre-fea­si­bil­ity study to the com­mis­sion in Jan­uary as to whether it would be pos­si­ble to build a 2000km un­der­wa­ter ca­ble to sup­ply the In­done­sian mar­ket with re­new­able en­ergy from Aus­tralia’s North West.

Mr James said he be­lieved the project was fi­nan­cially vi­able and would be pos­si­ble within the decade.

“We have been as­sisted by project part­ners who have ad­vised us that it is a ‘tech­ni­cal stretch’ but it is quite fea­si­ble,” he said.

“The tech­nol­ogy does ex­ist and it has been tri­alled at var­i­ous lengths, var­i­ous scales, var­i­ous depths across the globe.”

The project would re­quire a so­lar power panel farm with a ra­dius of be­tween 10km and 15km to be built in the Pil­bara and the Kim­ber­ley, and a high-volt­age di­rect ca­ble-transmission route stretch­ing from the Pil­bara through the Kim­ber­ley and on to Java.

Mr James said at least 2000km of the ca­ble would stretch un­der­wa­ter and the sub-sea el­e­ment was be­ing de­vel­oped in con­sul­ta­tion with Basslink and a si­lent project part­ner. Mr James said the most sig­nif­i­cant hur­dle for the project was the trade re­la­tion­ship with In­done­sia.

“This could be our key pil­lar of our re­la­tion­ship with In­done­sia, a sym­bol of mu­tual ben­e­fit, the abil­ity to im­prove its clean en­ergy and meet its very am­bi­tious growth tar­gets,” he said.

Pil­bara De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Terry Hill said the north­ern Pil­bara was iden­ti­fied by the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency as one of six places in the world which met the cri­te­ria for large-scale so­lar, re­new­able en­ergy.

“In July 2016 (we) pro­vided $119,000 in fund­ing to in­de­pen­dent re­searcher Sa­man­tha Mella to un­der­take a prefea­si­bil­ity study into ex­port­ing the Pil­bara re­gion’s so­lar re­sources,” he said.

“This project is at a very early stage. How­ever, given the fu­ture of en­ergy is re­new­able re­sources, it is ex­cit­ing.

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