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Australia’s Solar Export to Indonesia

An ambitious energy export plan could see solar power generated in Western Australia’s north-west piped to Indonesia.

A report commissioned by the Pilbara Development Commission and authored by Australian and Indonesian researchers looked into the potential to export electricity generated by photovoltaic (PV) solar in the Pilbara to Asia.

The study found it was feasible to deliver energy generated from a Pilbara solar facility and send it via a high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable under the sea to Indonesia.

Project manager Geoff James said the aim was to deliver a pilot project which would involve the development of a three gigawatt solar farm and a subsea transmission cable by 2030.

Dr James said the solar technology existed now but plans for the subsea cable would need further investigation.

The pilot project could create up to 2,000 permanent jobs in the Pilbara region and more than 12,000 jobs across Western Australia.

Dr James said solar PV potential in the Pilbara was “absolutely massive” and Indonesia had a “massive growth target” for increased energy generation.

“[Indonesia] wants 80 gigawatts more capacity, which is much more than Australia’s entire generation capacity at the moment,” he said.

He said Indonesia wanted to incorporate renewable energy into its target.

The WA Minister for Regional Development, Alannah MacTiernan, launched the study on Tuesday.

She said the study established dialogue with Indonesia about WA’s capacity to export renewable energy.

Pilbara renewables could power Australia

Renewable energy generated in the Pilbara region could produce four times Australia’s total power needs, according to new research.

In his report The Pilbara Powerhouse, Australian National University research fellow Dr Matthew Stocks found that there was huge potential for renewable energy production in the region.

Dr Stocks said that if the existing grid, the North West Interconnected System (NWIS), was replaced by hydro, solar and wind power, the Pilbara region could make significant contributions to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

“The potential is massive,” he said.

Dr Stocks also conceded that “the costs would be massive” to initially transform the north-west’s energy system to renewables.

But he said the investment into new, clean technology would be well worth it.

“The thing about renewable energy is that you pay for 25 years of electricity up front. It’s very expensive capital, but then very, very low running cost,” he said.

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