Philippine’s ACEN, Australian Aboriginal group team up for renewable energy


Philippine energy firm ACEN Corp has collaborated with Australia's Yindjibarndi Aboriginal group to develop a large renewable energy project in the heart of Western Australia's iron ore mining region.

The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corp (YAC) and ACEN plan to develop up to 3 GW of renewables on land owned by the community, they said on July 18.

They first plan to build 750 MW in combined wind, solar, and battery storage within several years for an investment of A$1 billion ($682 million).

As part of the deal, YAC would receive an equity stake of 25% to 50% in all projects and would have to approve any construction on the Yindjibarndi Ngurra, an area over which the Yindjibarndi people have exclusive native title rights.

Native title is a legal doctrine in Australia that recognizes and protects Indigenous rights to certain parcels of land.

Businesses owned by the Yindjibarndi people would be preferred for contracting, and members from the community will receive training and job opportunities, according 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," YAC Chief Executive Michael Woodley said.

ACEN, a subsidiary of Philippine conglomerate Ayala Group, aims to be the largest listed renewables platform in Southeast Asia, with a goal of reaching 20 GW by 2030, up from 4.4 GW currently.

"The agreement between the Yindjibarndi People and ACEN sets a new benchmark for meaningful participation by Indigenous Australians in the country's transition to a clean energy future," said Kane Thornto, CEO of Clean Energy Council.

Yindjibarndi country is well-suited to renewable energy as it is in an elevated area close to existing transmission infrastructure, the ACEN-YAC partnership, the Yindjibarndi Energy Corp (YEC), said on their website.

The agreement with ACEN comes in stark contrast to a long-running battle between the Yindjibarndi people and Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) over compensation for land used by the mining firm without an appropriate land-use deal.

In 2017, an Australian Federal Court ruling gave the Yindjibarndi people exclusive native title rights over land covering Fortescue's Solomon hub.

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