Solar power export ‘viable’
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.