BlueScope pushes ahead with green hydrogen plans


Australian-headquartered BlueScope has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Shell Energy Operations to collaborate on two green hydrogen projects, including the development of a renewable hydrogen electrolyser plant that would accelerate the steel giant’s ambition to decarbonise the Port Kembla Steelworks.

The initial project will investigate the design, construction and operation of a pilot-scale 10 MW renewable hydrogen electrolyser to explore and test the use of green hydrogen in the blast furnace at the Port Kembla facility.

The aim is to demonstrate green hydrogen as a pathway towards low emissions steelmaking. The companies said the hydrogen could also potentially be used for other purposes, such as to feed a pilot direct reduced iron (DRI) plant.

The BlueScope-Shell MoU also provides the option for the companies to collaborate with other organisations to develop a “hydrogen hub” in the Illawarra, including renewable energy supply and hydrogen and electricity infrastructure.

That aspect of the project would also examine the logistics infrastructure required for a commercially viable hydrogen supply chain in the Illawarra.

“We are looking to the future; short, medium and long term and we are looking forward to seeing what a pilot hydrogen electrolyser can teach us about the production, storage and handling of hydrogen and, importantly, how hydrogen will behave in a blast furnace, BlueScope chief executive Mark Vassella said.

“The projects announced today demonstrate BlueScope’s commitment to taking real action on climate change.”

Shell Australia chairman Tony Nunan said the MoU would leveraging each of the company’s strengths and capabilities to explore the development of integrated hydrogen supply chains.

“Hydrogen has the potential to play a key role in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors, many of which are central to Australia’s economic and social development,” he said.

“Collaborations such as these are fundamental to accelerating progress towards a net-zero emissions future.”

The project will look to demonstrate hydrogen’s role in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors, such as steelmaking.

Image: Shell

The BlueScope-Shell MoU is part of BlueScope’s previously announced climate investment program of up to $150 million over the next five years and the latest in a string of commitments the company has made in relation to manufacturing green steel at its Port Kembla facility.

BlueScope last month signed an MoU with Rio Tinto to focus on using green hydrogen for direct reduction of the mining giant’s Pilbara iron ores and In November 2020, Bluescope backed the NSW government’s renewable infrastructure plan through a $20 million investment into the development of a Renewable Manufacturing Zone at the Port Kembla site. The investment seeks to encourage innovation in the renewable sector and work towards the government’s goal of constructing the state’s Renewable Energy Zones with local materials.

“We will invest directly in our own plant,” Vassella said at the time, “but also partner with innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new technology solutions in key industries like renewables, infrastructure, defence, manufacturing and sustainable buildings.”

The announcement of the BlueScope-Shell MoU comes after the state’s green hydrogen strategy was approved last month, unlocking up to $3 billion in incentives to commercialise hydrogen supply chains and $70 million in government investment for the development of two new hydrogen hubs in the Illawarra and Hunter regions.

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