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AREH: A unique opportunity to decarbonize the Pilbara

1 July 2024

Sarah Carter, AREH Project Director, addressed delegates of the 2024 Pilbara Summit.


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Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak today on bps ambitions in the region. Before I begin, I’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet - the Ngarluma People and pay my respect to the elders past and present.  I also acknowledge all the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we hope to develop the Australian Renewable Energy Hub.


And of course, all First Nations people who remain custodians of the Pilbara.   My name is Sarah Carter, and I’m the Project Director for bp’s Australian Renewable Energy Hub, (known as AREH). I’m very proud to talk to the project today. 

Whilst I’m somewhat new to bp, I have more than 20 years of experience across the energy industry, and to be able to work on a renewable project of this scale is incredibly exciting. 


What makes it so exciting? AREH is unique. 


It has the potential to help decarbonise one of the most mining intensive and remote regions in the world.


It’s also one of the most regionally significant projects I’ve come across.


This significance was just recently acknowledged by the Federal Government by awarding us Major Project Status, a great achievement for our team. These facts, supported by the chance to work on country - with some of the most culturally rich communities in Australia make this an opportunity like no other.

The scale of AREH provides the Pilbara a real opportunity to be part of the energy transition solution, for Western Australia, and Australia’s future prosperity in a changing world.  Of course, with such great scale- comes great responsibility, but we’ll get to that shortly

For those who are new to AREH, it is a Joint Venture between bp, InterContinental Energy and CWP Global. I’d like to acknowledge our partners and thank them for their ongoing support in driving the project forward.  

AREH will be a phased development, with the initial plans focused on decarbonization of the Pilbara through producing renewable electrons generated by solar and wind.   Subsequent phases will bring about the potential for   domestic green hydrogen provision and, once at scale, green hydrogen for export into the international market.


At scale, AREH could:

  •  provide a significant decarbonisation opportunity for the Pilbara region, which currently produces 41% of Western Australia’s carbon emissions. 
  •  It could, produce up to 26 GW of combined solar and wind power, 

To help put some of that into context, if it proceeds, at full scale AREH has the potential to produce the equivalent of around one third of Australia’s electricity generated in 2020 and abate around 17mt of carbon in domestic and export markets annually.


Cue - huge responsibility. But we’re up for the challenge - our team has grown exponentially and in just one year since my colleague Ian Saxby presented at this summit - we’ve achieved an incredible amount. 


For one, we’ve continued to build on the relationships we have with Traditional Owners in the region. By engaging with the Nyangumarta People, we’ve been able understand more about their Country. This understanding helps to shape how we design AREH to effectively and considerately harness the abundant wind and solar energy to develop a consistent supply of renewable power. 

We have made a commitment to ensuring that we have the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the Traditional Owners we engage with. This does not only include the Traditional Lands of the Development Area, but those lands in between that will connect AREH with our allocated lot at Boodarie Strategic Industrial Area, near Port Hedland. Obtaining FPIC is a commitment bp holds as a company as set out in our human rights policy. 


We’re grateful for the support and knowledge the Traditional Owners are willing to share to educate us and help progress plans across country. 


We also meet regularly with the broader regional community to better understand the impacts a muti-gigawatt scale project – such as this one - may present. 

We’re invested in identifying opportunities for collective impact, and are proud of our relationships with local high schools, community groups and local chambers of commerce and industry. 

Early this year, we engaged with local communities to help shape how we deliver our social performance strategy to drive a just transition. This work will help us understand the needs and aspirations of the communities surrounding our projects and how they hope to benefit from the energy transition. This knowledge will inform our approach to social investment and engagement in the Pilbara region. 


We see AREH as a long-term, sustainable partnership within the region- and we’ll continue to work with the local community to identify opportunities to collaborate and tackle social pinch points - such as workforce, housing, supply chains – and share the potential upside - if we get the planning and early investment right.


A project of this size and scale cannot be achieved in isolation - for us to transition efficiently, effectively and at pace, collaboration is crucial. 

Beyond partnering with the region, we’ll need to partner with industry, government, and customers to succeed. It’s why common user infrastructure has such a fundamental role to play.  

Transmission is one example where the benefits of collaboration are clear. That is why AREH is working with Horizon Power to support its  Pilbara Green Link project to develop an integrated energy grid to support the decarbonization of the Pilbara.


Last month, the Federal government announced $22.7 billion in funding for the Future Made In Australia Act. The Future Made In Australia act includes a 7-billion-dollar Critical Minerals Production Tax Incentive which provides production incentives for future hydrogen offtakers, and $6.7 billion to fund a Hydrogen Production Tax Incentive.

These measures have the potential to strengthen our resources sector, and help attract ongoing investment in future industries. They will also help to derisk first movers in assessing renewable hydrogen projects in Australia. 

In addition to hydrogen and critical minerals, the Future Made In Australia act aims to drive the growth of three other priority industries, including low carbon liquid fuels, green metals production and solar manufacturing.

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate both Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen, and the Albanese Government for taking these vital next steps to secure Australia’s place on the road to reach net zero by 2050. 

We were also pleased to hear of the WA Government’s $500 million investment for the New Strategic Industries Fund, which could support the fast tracking of Strategic Industrial Areas such as Boodarie  and transform those sites into major job-creating hubs in the regions.

Located in Port Hedland, the Boodarie Strategic Industrial Area offers prime access to the port of Port Hedland to enable supply of renewable power and hydrogen to the Pilbara region, with potential to service the broader domestic market, and for export in the future. 

The announcement to support regional industrial areas builds on the existing support offered by the State and Federal Government’s $3b Rewiring the Nation funding to modernize regional electricity grids and enable a consolidated view of future energy requirements in the region to reduce duplication of infrastructure and minimize impact on country. 

We look forward to government advice regarding progressing SIA planning, and welcome conversations to support further multiuser infrastructure requirements such as desalination plants, roads, and port facilities. 


With unique opportunity, come unique challenges. 

bp is a global integrated energy company with a long and proud history in Australia. bp’s purpose is to reimagine energy. 

We recognize the entire energy transition is complex. The world needs rapid investment in lower carbon energy, but also investment in today’s energy system, to deliver secure and affordable energy for Australians. 


Resilient hydrocarbons will play an important role and we are proud to be a foundational partner in the Woodside-operated NWS project, in which I have a personal history with, having worked on the project.


We believe that developing gas fields like Browse, which can be piped to the existing North West Shelf domgas and LNG facilities for processing, is also key to a successful transition. For us, it's an ‘and, not or’   proposition. Fortunately, when it comes to complexity, we have some experience.


The challenges we face as we move to a low carbon energy mix are not unlike those, we’ve faced developing LNG right here in Karratha.  

In the 60’s the LNG industry also faced challenges of infrastructure in remote locations, environmental concerns and market uncertainty and substantial financial investment was required. It took significant technological innovation, strong industry partnerships and supportive government policy, but WA made it happen.   And its had a significant impact on the development of the Pilbara.


When it comes to energy, Western Australia has a reputation for getting it done – and whether it’s in oil and gas, or solar, wind or hydrogen, we possess the knowledge, skills, and relationships to succeed.  



There is a role for renewables, hydrogen, ammonia, and biofuels to play in Australia’s energy mix- to provide the future fuels that customers need.


To succeed- we’ll continue to listen to the evolving needs of our customers for cleaner energy options, whilst maintaining their confidence that Australia can continue to be an affordable, reliable supplier of energy.


It’s easy to see why AREH poses such a unique opportunity in Australia’s energy transition- but we believe we have the right people, customers, and community to help decarbonize the region, together.