International ‘heavy-hitters’ line up for green hydrogen hub

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The South Australian government said it has shortlisted seven renewable hydrogen projects that combined could produce more than 1.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen a year as it looks to develop the proposed Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub into a world-leading production and export facility.

Premier Steven Marshall said the level of investment interest in the Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub would make the Spencer Gulf a world-class renewable energy precinct and has the capacity to transform South Australia into a renewable energy exporter of world standing within the next decade.

“Seven shortlisted projects from both Australian and international heavy-hitters are proposing tens of billions of dollars of investment, potentially creating hundreds of local jobs, in all parts of the hydrogen supply chain,” he said.

“Together, the seven shortlisted projects could produce over one and a half million tonnes of hydrogen per annum, which would make South Australia one of the most significant producers of hydrogen in the world.”

The government said it is now negotiating with shortlisted parties, aiming to finalise arrangements with partners to be announced in coming months.

The Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub, identified as a potential export hub for green hydrogen in South Australia’s Hydrogen Export Prospectus, assumes 2.3-6.5 GW renewable energy development to feed electrolysers of 1.2-2.5 GW.

Energy Minister Dan Van Holst Pellekaan said the response to the Expression of Interest (EOI) would help deliver the state government’s ambition to produce 500% of current grid demand in renewable energy by 2050.

It is expected that ambition, outlined in the Climate Change Action Plan released late last year, will be in part delivered by exporting power interstate through the new high-voltage electricity transmission interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales and internationally through clean exports like hydrogen.

The South Australian government has shortlisted seven green hydrogen projects.

NSW government

“The response from industry to the Port Bonython EOI shows that we can turn our 500% renewable energy by 2050 vision into a reality,” Van Holst Pellekaan said.

“The SA-NSW Interconnector means we can export renewable energy interstate – the Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub will allow us to export it internationally.”

Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin welcomed the announcement, declaring the Port Bonython region ideally suited to serve as a green hydrogen production and export hub.

The state-owned site at Port Bonython has access to multiple renewable energy zones and more than 2,000 hectares of available land, as well as access to an existing deep-water port, including a 2.4-kilometre-long jetty which has been approved for a $37 million state government-funded upgrade.

“We have an abundance of land and solar energy projects in the pipeline to power the conversion of water to hydrogen; we have the road, rail and port facilities to support distribution and export of hydrogen; we have key local industry preparing for conversion to hydrogen … we’re well-placed on all fronts,” McLaughlin said.

“The fact the state government has now shortlisted a group of national and international companies to work with means we are another step closer to realising our hydrogen potential.

“We’re therefore keen to work closely with all levels of government, and the private sector, to deliver these significant developments as soon as possible.”

The Port Bonython site is already home to oil and gas producer Santos’ processing plant, which receives natural gas liquids and crude oil piped 659km from the Moomba plant for export, and a diesel fuel import and storage terminal.

Sunrise at Cultana Solar Farm — a digital impression of the scene to come.

Image: Simec Energy Australia

The region is also home to a string of renewable energy projects including the proposed 280 MW Cultana Solar Farm, the first project in industrialist Sanjeev Gupta’s plan to generate 1 GW of dispatchable renewable energy in the state.

Amp Power Australia, the Australian operating arm of Canadian clean energy developer Amp Energy, has also set its sights on the region, recently signing a lease agreement to develop its 388 MW Yoorndoo Ilga solar farm and hybridised 150 MW battery north of Whyalla.

The Yoorndoo Ilga Solar farm is one of three sites comprising Amp’s 1.3 GW Renewable Energy Hub of South Australia, which will also include solar farms coupled with storage in Robertstown (636 MW) and Bungama (336 MW). Amp has set out an investment in excess of $2 billion for the hub’s creation, which is planned to also generate hydrogen for both the domestic and export markets in future.

Australian company H2U has also announced plans to develop a $240 million hydrogen project near Whyalla.

The company said its Eyre Peninsula Gateway Hydrogen Project will see the installation of a 75 MW electrolyser capable of producing enough green hydrogen to create 40,000 tonnes of ammonia each year.

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