Regional WA holds potential for renewable energy

Western Australia's Pilbara and Mid West regions have been examined to have the potential for renewable energy, according to two federal government reports.

The Australian Centre for Renewable Energy commissioned Evans & Peck, partnering with Worley Parsons to undertake a Regional Renewable Energy Assessment in WA to provide sustainable and secure energy supply.

The reports assess the potential for renewable energy and systems in Pilbara and the Mid West, finding that because of increased mining in the region, there will be a significant increase in energy demand.

Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson said the reports provide a clearer use for the potential use of renewable energy in the regions, which are dominated by energy intensive mining and processing activities as well as agriculture.

"There are opportunities for wind, solar and bio-energy in both regions, based on the natural resources available; increasingly expensive traditional fossil fuels such as diesel and gas make renewables an attractive alternative," Mr Ferguson said.

He said barriers to overcome in using renewable energy in the region include the reliability of supply for the mining industry when deciding where the electricity will come from because of exposure to revenue penalties during process interruptions.

"The reports find hybrid systems like wind or solar combined with diesel or biodiesel as well as investigating options for storage are the most suitable solutions," Mr Ferguson said.

Mr Ferguson said hybrid systems provide capabilities for renewable energy to work alongside conventional power generation to save fuel when the renewable energy resource is unavailable.

According to Mr Ferguson, the introduction of a carbon price will further assist the competitiveness of off-grid renewables.

Local councils falling under the Pilbara region are Port Hedland, Shire of East Pilbara and Shire of Roebourne.

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