ACEN, Yindjibarndi people to develop 3GW renewables project

Bright blue sky with wind turbines and solar panels (ACEN yindjibarndi)
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Renewables developer ACEN has partnered with Traditional Owners the Yindjibarndi people to develop, own, and operate large-scale renewable energy projects of up to 3GW capacity in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

ACEN and the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) cemented the partnership last June through the formation of the Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation (YEC). The YEC is tasked with advancing major renewable energy projects on Yindjibarndi Ngurra (country), which is conveniently located near major industrial energy users. The leadership of YEC includes ACEN-appointed director and chairman Anton Rohner and Yindjibarndi-appointed director Craig Ricato.

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This collaboration represents one of the largest Indigenous-led renewable energy initiatives in Australia. ACEN and the Yindjibarndi people will jointly develop wind, solar, and renewable energy storage projects on Yindjibarndi Ngurra, an area of approximately 13,000sq km within the Yindjibarndi Native Title Determination Areas.

The partnership agreement between ACEN and the Yindjibarndi people includes principles such as Yindjibarndi approval for all proposed project sites on Yindjibarndi Ngurra, Yindjibarndi equity participation of 25% to 50% in all projects, preferred contracting for Yindjibarndi-owned businesses, and training and employment opportunities for Yindjibarndi people.

The initial goal of YEC is to have 750MW of combined wind, solar, and battery storage under construction within the next few years, representing an investment of more than $1 billion. Subsequent stages will target an additional 2GW to 3GW of combined wind, solar, and battery storage. The renewable energy produced will surpass the current output of WA’s largest coal-fired power station.

ACEN International CEO Patrice Clausse commented, “We feel deeply honored by the trust the Yindjibarndi community has bestowed upon ACEN to work collaboratively with them in exploring development opportunities on their lands. The Pilbara region is home to some of the largest industrial energy users globally, many of whom have expressed their desire to transition to a carbon-neutral future. We are actively engaged in promising dialogues with potential off-take customers to purchase the renewable energy.”

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YAC CEO Michael Woodley said, “We know that our country is well located for renewable energy development, so we made the decision early to lead. We established a small team and set out to find a partner with the right capabilities and values, which led us to ACEN.

“The agreement with ACEN means that the Yindjibarndi people can actively participate in Australia’s renewable energy transition in a significant way that provides long-term economic benefits to our community, whilst also ensuring that we can protect and preserve all areas within Yindjibarndi Ngurra which are of cultural, spiritual, and environmental significance to us. The partnership will also create sustainable, long-term training and employment opportunities on country for our people.”

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