Australia’s First Nations Yindjibarndi people have partnered with Philippine renewables company ACEN to develop and operate renewable energy projects in Western Australia. The partnership is one of the largest Indigenous-led renewable energy initiatives in Australia, with a focus on sustainable development and economic opportunities.
“What ACEN and the Yindjibarndi group are doing is fully aligned with the Strategic Partnership between Australia and the Philippines. We are happy to collaborate and work together to ensure that the partnership is mutually beneficial and sustainable,” said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu PSM FCPA (Aust).
Through the creation of the Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation (YEC), ACEN and the Yindjibarndi people will jointly develop wind, solar, and renewable energy projects on Yindjibarndi Ngurra, an area of approximately 13,000 km2 within Yindjibarndi’s exclusive native title land in Australia.
The initial goal of YEC is to have 750 MW of combined wind, solar, and battery storage under construction within the next few years, representing an investment of more than PHP 36 billion. The energy produced will be for domestic and export markets. Subsequent stages will target an additional 2 GW to 3 GW of combined wind, solar, and battery storage.
The leadership of YEC includes ACEN-appointed director and chairman, Anton Rohner, and Yindjibarndi-appointed director Craig Ricato.
“This partnership between ACEN and the Yindjibarndi People was built on shared values. ACEN were genuine in their interactions with the Yinjibarndi people – they were honest about their intentions and listened to what the Traditional Owners needed. This made the Yindjibarndi comfortable around ACEN’s people and put them in good standing to negotiate the terms of the partnership agreement,” explained Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation CEO Craig Ricato.
ACEN International CEO Patrice Clausse said: “We feel deeply honoured by the trust that Australia’s Yindjibarndi community has given us to work collaboratively with them. 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.”
The Australian Embassy in the Philippines is supporting ACEN with market information and opportunities.
“Australian investment advisors in the Philippines and Australia are helping us keep up to date with developments in Australia’s growing renewable energy sector, and sharing information on investment opportunities,” said Clausse.
“They are also pivotal in helping us connect with government representatives at federal and state levels.”
ACEN has established a solid footprint in Australia’s renewable energy sector, contributing significantly to the country’s clean energy transition and sustainability goals.
Its partnership with the Yindjibarndi is not its first with First Nations groups on energy projects in Australia. In March 2023, the renewable energy firm launched the first stage of its New England solar project, located in New South Wales. As part of this project, ACEN has partnered with the local Anaiwan people to ensure culturally significant areas located on the project site are protected for future generations.