Landmark agreement signed to aid decarbonisation in the Pilbara

As part of its commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, the Western Australian Government led by Premier Roger Cook has announced that members of the ‘Pilbara Industry Roundtable’ (PIR) have all agreed on common use electricity infrastructure in the Pilbara. The agreement recognises the importance of supporting increased use of renewable energy in the Pilbara.

Members of the PIR include the Minister for Energy Bill Johnston and representatives from Rio Tinto, BHP, Fortescue, Roy Hill, Woodside Energy, Horizon Power, Alinta Energy, bp, TransAlta, Pilbara Independent System Operator Company, and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia.

The PIR met four times in the past year to oversee a works program modelling future electricity demand scenarios. It assessed the current regulatory framework, examined land tenure arrangements, and explored social licence with a focus on empowering local Aboriginal people. The PIR agreement “recognises the challenges and opportunities that decarbonisation presents for industry and the region.” The Minister for Energy will use the findings of the Roundtable to design the next phase.

In more detail, the consensus among participants is that:

  • A new common use electricity infrastructure has an important role to play in supporting increased levels of renewable energy and decarbonisation in the Pilbara, and future modelling, on an annual basis if there are material changes, should inform its development;
  • There is support for the Pilbara electricity regulatory regime to evolve to support the energy transition and agreement to participate in the consultation process which will support the implementation of further reforms as required;
  • As a priority first step, key Government agencies will work together to update existing land tenure guidance for common use electricity infrastructure and renewable energy development;
  • Any electricity infrastructure development should support rights to self-determination and empower Aboriginal people to realise opportunities from the clean energy transformation.

Johnston stated: “This agreement is a historic accord between Government and key industry players in the Pilbara, recognising that to reach our ambitious decarbonisation goals common use electrical infrastructure is key. This is a landmark agreement for our clean energy future and the economic development of the Pilbara and our State. The agreement recognises that electrical infrastructure development should empower local Aboriginal groups.”

Climate Action Minister Reece Whitby added: “This is a significant step towards a clean energy future. It’s important we work together with major resources companies to reach our ambitious decarbonisation targets. Our vision is for Western Australia to become a world leader in renewable energy. Our Government is committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Decarbonising WA’s economy to protect our environment for future generations is essential to the growth and diversification of our State.”