Fortescue plans unrivalled renewables hub

Fortescue Iron Bridge. Image: Fortescue

Fortescue Metals Group has proposed to construct a 5.4 gigawatt (GW) renewable energy hub in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to fulfil its net-zero promise by 2030.

Fortescue subsidiary Pilbara Energy submitted a proposal for the Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub to the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), asking for a development area of 61,525 hectares.

The project would be located 120 kilometres south of Onslow and 170 kilometres west of Fortescue’s Eliwana iron ore mine.

The project would include up to 340 wind turbines, a solar farm and a battery energy storage system with associated infrastructure.

A temporary construction camp would also be included with a capacity of 1600 people, while the hub’s operational workforce would include up to 100 people.

Construction of the Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub is hoped to be complete over a seven-year timeframe once the appropriate approvals are received.

The proposal said the hub would be sufficient for powering Fortescue’s Pilbara mining operations, no matter the weather conditions.

“The proposal has been scaled to supply FMG mining operations and with consideration for the intermittency of wind and solar power generation – that is, the variability of wind speed and the restriction of solar power generation to daylight hours,” the proposal stated,

The wind turbines are expected to generate peak power around 40 per cent of the time and the solar farm for 30 per cent.

This will allow Fortescue to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from its mining operations by at least 1.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions or equivalents each year – displacing diesel and gas-fired power.

Fortescue’s proposal hoped this plan would inspire others to implement similar solutions, as they too target net-zero operations.

“The proposal will demonstrate the viability of zero-carbon technologies in fuelling commercial-scale operations and will encourage other proponents to follow suit,” it stated.

Taken from Fortescue’s development proposal to the EPA. Long, blue cells represent solar panels. Green dots represent wind turbines.
Image: EPA.

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