The environmental watchdog has recommended approval for Woodside’s proposed solar farm and battery energy system near Karratha, subject to strict conditions.
Woodside’s plan to install one million solar panels and build a battery energy storage system near Karratha has been recommended for approval by the environmental watchdog.
The oil and gas giant is proposing to build an up to 500 megawatts solar photovoltaic farm and battery energy storage system at the Maitland Strategic Industrial Area 15 kilometers south-west of Karratha.
Woodside has proposed a total development envelope of 1,100 hectares, encompassing one million solar panels and supporting infrastructure.
If approved by the minister, the proposed project would generate electricity for industrial customers through Horizon Power's North-West Interconnected System.
It would also create about 100 jobs before becoming remotely operated.
The under-development Maitland Strategic Industrial Area comprises of 2,500 hectares of land set aside to promote and facilitate the processing of natural resources in the Pilbara, according to Development WA.
Fortescue Future Industries, Yara International, Hexagon and Perdaman Chemicals and Fertilisers have been approved as proponents for the industrial area by the state government.
The Environmental Protection Authority today announced it had recommended approval for Woodside’s solar project subject to conditions to mitigate impacts on flora, fauna, foraging vegetation and Aboriginal heritage.
EPA chair Professor Matthew Tonts said the the geographical location meant the MSIA was so far relatively undisturbed.
“This means future proposals within the Maitland estate will need to consider how to address cumulative impacts to flora and vegetation, terrestrial fauna and other environmental factors and how these impacts will intersect with impacts to social surroundings, especially Aboriginal cultural heritage,” he said.
“The EPA proposes that a cumulative assessment is required to establish expectations for proponents planning projects in the MSIA.
“In addition, this EPA report recommends that land should be set aside within the MSIA specifically for the use and benefit of the Ngarluma People.
Professor Tonts said other renewable energy project proponents should consider the amount of disturbance required to implant projects compared to the savings of greenhouse gas.
“The management of waste produced by future renewable energy projects will also be a key consideration in our assessment of these types of proposals,” he said.
“Proponents will need to consider waste management and recycling of solar panels and other associated renewable energy infrastructure as part of a circular waste economy.”
The environmental watchdog's report to the Minister for Environment will now be subject to a three-week public appeal period until October 5.
The minister will then make a final decision on the solar project proposal.