The first project which is proposed as part of a mammoth renewable energy development that will help to decarbonise Australia’s biggest mining and resource region has been approved.

And the project will be part owned by the local aboriginal community.

The Western Australian Government has announced that a 150MW solar farm which is being constructed as part of the 3GW Yindjibarndi Energy Project has received environmental approval.

Set to be delivered on traditional lands in the north-west of Western Australia, the Yindjibarndi Energy Project will play a significant role in helping to decarbonise the Pilbara – Australia’s largest resource and mining region which is home to the world’s largest deposit of iron ore.

Energy generated from the development will be sold to large resource companies for use in powering their mines, rail, ports and towns. It will help these companies to decarbonise by reducing their reliance upon fossil fuels to power their operations.

The solar farm is the first project to be approved as part of Stage One of the overall development.

Overall, the 3GW development is set to be delivered in two stages.

Stage One will deliver up to 750MW of power and involves two separate projects.

These include:

  • the Jinbi Project, that will include the now approved solar farm (150MW), an option for battery energy storage and connection to existing transmission infrastructure; and
  • a Baru project that will deliver 300MW of wind, 350MW of solar, an option for battery storage and construction of a 55-70km transmission line for connection to the WA Government Pilbara Strategic Industrial Areas.

Should both stages proceed, the development is expected to deliver a significant part of the 41GW of renewable electricity which the Western Australian Government believes is necessary to decarbonise the Pilbara by 2051.

The project will also deliver more than $1.4 billion in private investment into the Western Australian economy and will create up to 400 jobs during peak construction.

A key feature of the project is its part ownership by the local aboriginal community.

The project will be delivered on the traditional country of the Yindjibarndi people.

It is being delivered by Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation – a partnership between Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation and renewable energy provider ACEN Corporation.

The Yindjibarndi people will receive a long-term revenue stream from energy sales.

The development will enable the Yindjibarndi people to control renewable energy development on their traditional lands without needing to deal with others who seek to develop projects with limited involvement of the Yindjibarndi people.

Projects which are delivered under the partnership will be constructed in approved areas only and will be developed in a way that protects aboriginal cultural heritage.

The development will support jobs and training for Yindjibarndi people and will thus provide support for people to return to their homelands.

The project is also the first to be granted approval under the Western Australian Government’s Green Energy Approvals Initiative.

Announced in December 2022, the initiative aims to reduce approval times for renewable energy projects.

Projects which qualify under this initiative can have access to a dedicated environmental assessment team as well as a dedicated major projects facilitation team.

Western Australian Minister for Environment and Climate Action Reece Whitby welcomed the approval.

“I want to see Western Australia become a renewable energy powerhouse, so it is critical we cut red tape and get clean energy projects online without unnecessary delays,” Whitby said.

“Yindjibarndi’s proposals are exactly what our government wants to see more of in WA.

“With the potential to decarbonise our state’s energy systems, create On Country jobs for Aboriginal Australians, and support renewable energy uptake by industry in the Pilbara, I look forward to seeing Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation’s proposals come to fruition.”


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