Pilbara could export sunshine to Asia: study

Sending solar power from the Pilbara to the ASEAN region could be the next big energy export for Western Australia.

A pre-feasibility study has found exporting solar power from the state would be technically viable.

The study developed a scenario detailing the cost to build a 3GW solar farm and transmission subsea cable from the Pilbara to Indonesia.

A solar export project of this scale could create up to 2000 permanent jobs in the Pilbara, and more than 12,000 across Western Australia.

“The Pilbara has some of the best solar resources in the world and this report highlights the opportunity we have to sell our sunlight to our South-East Asian neighbours,” WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.

“Exporting solar energy to Asia has the potential to be a valuable addition to the Pilbara’s existing energy mix and would stimulate new economic activity, creating thousands of permanent jobs in the region.

“We now have the evidence to establish dialogue with Indonesia about the potential for a transformational clean energy partnership to take WA’s renewable energy to the world.”

The Pilbara has one of the highest levels of direct solar irradiance on the planet and was identified by the International Energy Agency’s Task 8 Committee as one of the top six locations in the world to develop large-scale solar farms.

The Pilbara’s other competitive advantages, such as land availability, industrial infrastructure, proximity to Asia and existing investment links, see the region well placed to supply an efficient and reliable power source to meet rapidly growing demand from South-East Asia.

The study was launched at the New Pilbara Economic Development Conference in Perth today.