The $3 billion solar and green hydrogen project proposed for the East Kimberley region of Western Australia is based on a new partnership between three traditional owner groups, the Balanggarra people through the Balanggarra Ventures Corporation (a subsidiary of Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC), the Yawoorroong Miriuwung Gajerrong Yirrgeb Noong Dawang Aboriginal Corporation (MG Corporation), and Kimberley Land Council, with clean energy investor Pollination.
The three First Nations groups will each have an initial 25% share in the new company they've formed - Aboriginal Clean Energy, with Pollination also having a 25% share.
The East Kimberley Clean Energy project will see a ~ 2,000-hectare solar farm developed on MG Corporation freehold land near Kununurra. The resulting solar energy (approximately 1,000 megawatts) will be combined with water and hydro energy from the existing Ord Hydro Power Plant at Lake Argyle to produce green hydrogen. The green hydrogen will be transported by pipeline to Balanggarra Country in Wyndham where it will be converted to green ammonia. The green ammonia will be sold locally as a fertiliser for irrigated agriculture, and will also be exported.
Lawford Benning from MG Corporation says: "A focus on First Nations economic empowerment has led groups like ours to reject the historic passive engagement model of receiving royalties for agreeing to give up control of our lands."
Balangarra’s Cissy Gore-Birch says: "This is an opportunity where we can actually showcase that we are able to work together on a shared project and an agreement to be able to look at the bigger outcomes. This is not only just for Traditional Owners, but I guess for the rest of the nation and rest rest of the world, but the things that we’re thinking about is really bettering the lives of our people who really haven’t benefited in the past through these big projects around Australia.”
The East Kimberley Clean Energy project was announced in July 2023, with the feasibility and capital raising still to be completed.
The partnership is hoping to start construction in late 2025, with the first hydrogen produced by late 2028.