Perth-based Infinite Blue Energy (IBE) has unveiled a bold plan to deliver Australia’s first green hydrogen baseload power plant that could change the electricity landscape in New South Wales (NSW). Project NEO is initially focused on providing 1000 MW of green hydrogen using solar, wind and hydrogen fuel cells for 24/7 electricity supply.
The project, which will commence with a feasibility study and detailed design over the next 18 months, aims to transition energy-intensive, fossil fuel-dependent industries in NSW to 100% renewables by 2027. To provide reliable baseload power, NEO will use solar and wind to produce hydrogen, a certain amount of which will be stored in fuel cells and available when there is no wind or sun, on cloudy days and at night.
“The vision at IBE is to show the world, first and foremost, that Australia has the technology, skills and entrepreneurial mindset to be a true leader in the development of green hydrogen plants,” IBE CEO Stephen Gauld said. “We are currently in robust negotiations with major electricity users in the NSW Hunter Region that have confirmed their intentions to transition to green hydrogen baseload electricity this decade.”
Led by a team with substantial experience in the oil and gas sector, IBE has only recently appeared on the Australian energy scene. In April, the company unveiled plans for the first of its many green hydrogen projects in Western Australia (WA), announcing an initial $300 million investment for its first phase of construction. Other companies that have announced gigawatt-scale plans in WA include BP Australia, which is looking to develop around 1.5 GW of greenfield solar and wind projects for its green hydrogen and ammonia plans, and Siemens, which aims to produce green hydrogen for local industry and export to Asia from up to 5 GW of wind and solar capacity.
Another megaproject underway in WA is the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH), which could feature up to 15 GW of solar and wind capacity with the goal to supply local energy users in the Pilbara region and develop a green hydrogen manufacturing hub for domestic use and export to Asia. Recently, AREH has moved forward after being recommended for environmental approval.
Fast-tracking NSW’s energy transition
Project NEO, which comes with a $2.7 billion price tag, is expected to feature 235 wind turbines and a PV array covering approximately 1,250 hectares of land. The cumulative renewable energy capacity will stand at around 3.5 GW and will be deployed at high-value sites for solar and wind production, in combination with a “distributed generation model”. “This allows the generation sites to blend in with existing land users with minimal impact,” IBE says.
Over 2 million NSW homes stand to benefit from Project NEO, the company says, in addition to other economic benefits. IBE anticipates that a significant proportion of the workforce required for Project NEO will be drawn from the existing coal-fired power stations in NSW, since many of the skills are similar.
“Project NEO will produce local and indirect employment, allow existing industries to decarbonize, and facilitate the establishment of new industries,” Gauld says. “It will localize manufacturing, give a 100% green supply of power to NSW, fuel the reduction of the state’s carbon emissions and can therefore play a pivotal role in ultimately helping Australia become leaders in carbon emission reduction.”