Oil and gas exploration company Pilot Energy Limited has commenced a detailed feasibility study to pursue the development of an offshore wind and onshore wind and solar power project along the coast of the Mid-West region of Western Australia
The project aims to take advantage of ‘world-class’ wind and solar resources and if focused on the potential development in an area of offshore exploration permit WA-481-P (which is 60% owned and operated by Pilot), connecting into the electricity transmission facilities of the South West Integrated System.
Geoscience Australia has also consistently rated the Mid-West region as being highly suitable for producing green and blue hydrogen across multiple scenarios.
The study will also assess the viability of supplying energy for hydrogen production for domestic use and/or for export taking advantage of existing nearby gas supply and infrastructure.
Pilot intends to own 100% of the project at the feasibility stage, but believes it has potential to attract co-investors, should the feasibility study demonstrate its economic potential.
Pilot chairman Brad Lingo said, “The Mid-West Wind and Solar Project is directly aligned with the strategic plan the company announced in the ASX release of 13 May 2020 and with our existing position as the operator of the offshore exploration permit WA-481-P.
“We see this as a perfect opportunity to develop a major renewable energy transition project in the Mid-West coast region of Western Australia.”
Mr Lingo continued “This is exactly the type of development that demonstrates the ability to substantially redefine how the Australian offshore oil and gas industry can, in parallel with existing operations, participate in a low carbon future through offshore renewable energy projects delivering substantial low cost energy to Western Australia.
“The substantial nature of the offshore opportunity in Western Australian also presents the option to supply renewable hydrogen for domestic residential and industrial consumption as well as the potential to supply international markets.”
“This is only the beginning of the process to establish the overall feasibility of the project but it is a very good first step and Pilot’s existing footprint and management experience provides a unique opportunity to participate in the energy transition as a dedicated energy solutions provider.
“Pilot strongly believes that focusing on the energy transition provides the opportunity to deliver strong growth and significant shareholder value.”
The offshore wind resource in the area covered by WA-481-P has been measured to have an annual mean wind speed greater than 9 m/s at a hub height 100 m. The eastern boundary of WA-481-P is approximately 10 km offshore in relatively shallow water depths ranging between 20 m and 40 m along the entire eastern portion of the permit from 10 km to 30 km offshore.
The company said meso-scale maps show that Australia’s greatest wind potential lies in the coastal regions of western, south‑western, southern and south-eastern Australia and the coastal regions with high wind resources (wind speeds above 7.5 m/s) include the coast of Western Australia south of Shark Bay to Cape Leeuwin which cover the area of WA-481-P.
Geoscience Australia has estimated that when areas with good offshore wind resources (7 m/s and greater) otherwise suitable for offshore wind power is constrained to areas within 100 km of the existing electricity transmission grid (66 kV and greater) the overall wind resource areas suitable for offshore windfarm development significantly reduces from about 600,000 km2 to about 3,300 km2.
WA-481-P sits entirely within 100 km of existing high voltage transmission lines – 330 kV and 132 kV transmission lines of Western Power’s South West Integrated System and over 88% of this area sits in water depths less than 60 m.
The concept for the project is to develop a major offshore windfarm located in the area of WA-481-P and to combine this development with an onshore solar farm to deliver a combined wind and solar project capable of delivering a large-scale source of low-cost green energy on a sustainable basis.
For the feasibility study, Pilot Energy has developed a conceptual development layout for a four-stage development for up to 1.1 GW of offshore wind power generation that maximises the overall potential of the development. This is comprised of up to 78 14-MW wind turbines (based on current turbine models and generation capacities).
The Mid-West Wind and Solar Project and the location of the offshore windfarm is intended to be developed in such a way to assess the feasibility of accessing and utilising existing offshore and onshore gas infrastructure in the overall development with a view to delivering a significant multi-tasking of the existing facilities.
Pilot is looking to transition the focus of the company from pure oil and gas exploration to an energy transition strategy based on gas supply, energy storage and renewables and is leveraging its existing assets in transitioning to this focus. In making this transition, the company anticipates spending approximately A$1.2M (US$870,000) on the feasibility study.