7 major players shortlisted for ARENA hydrogen funding round

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency today shortlisted seven companies from 36 expressions of interest in its $70 million Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round, which is designed to fast track development of renewable hydrogen in Australia.

“The best way to help build a hydrogen industry,” said ARENA’s CEO Darren Miller in a statement today, “is to support projects that will help demonstrate the technology at scale.”

A minimum of two of the shortlisted large-scale projects — all applicants intend to deploy 10 MW or larger electrolysers — will be selected for support by the fund, and are expected to be among some of the largest electrolysers yet deployed in the world.

“We’re excited to be able to invite these seven projects to submit full applications for ARENA funding,” said Miller:

  • APT Management Services — a provider to industry of mechanical and engineering solutions
  • ATCO Australia — a global energy-infrastructure and transportation provider and operator
  • Australian Gas Networks — an Adelaide-based natural-gas distributor
  • BHP Billiton Nickel West — a West Australian-based mine-to-market nickel business
  • Engie Renewables Australia — an energy company with interests in wind and solar projects throughout Australia
  • Macquarie Corporate Holdings — the holding company of Macquarie Group
  • Woodside Energy — Australia’s largest natural gas producer

In total, these shortlisted applicants requested grants of more than $200 million, and had a combined project value of almost $500 million.

End uses of their projects include transport, gas injection, renewable ammonia, power and industrial applications.

“This round, along with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) $300 million Advancing Hydrogen Fund, will be key to bringing down the production costs of hydrogen and making the technology commercial,” said AngusTaylor, Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, in a matching statement.

ARENA’s Renewable Hydrogen Deployment funding round supports the Government’s goal under the Technology Investment Roadmap, of reducing the costs associated with producing renewable hydrogen to under $2 per kilogram, the point at which it becomes competitive with alternative large-scale energy sources.

“The Government is committed to building a world-class hydrogen industry in Australia,” said Minister Taylor, who remains technology agnostic in relation to hydrogen production.

The $300 million Advancing Hydrogen Fund, administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) was announced by Taylor in May, and applicants for the ARENA Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Fund are also eligible for financing under the larger CEFC allocation.

In line with the CEFC Act, projects seeking CEFC finance through the Advancing Hydrogen Fund are required to be commercial, draw on renewable energy, energy efficiency and/or low emissions technologies and contribute to emissions reduction.

“We see green hydrogen as offering the most credible pathway to decarbonisation for high emitting sectors and those which lack scaleable electrification options,” said CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth at the announcement of the fund.

ARENA’s Darren Miller agrees, identifying heavy industry and transport as sectors targeted by the dual funding opportunity, and adding, “A thriving renewable hydrogen production sector,” ultimately will, “provide the platform for Australia to export renewable energy and reduce emissions beyond our borders”.

The Agency has previously committed more than $55 million for renewable hydrogen projects, including $2.26 million for the APA Renewable Methane Demonstration Project; $4.99 million for the Stanwell Hydrogen Electrolysis Deployment Feasibility Study; and $9.41 million for The Hazer Process: Commercial Demonstration Plant, which converts biogas from sewage treatment into hydrogen and graphite.

The deadline for the shortlisted seven to submit full applications for ARENA funding in this latest round is January 2021, and ARENA expects to select preferred projects by mid 2021.