Japanese gas giant to lead Darwin ‘clean’ hydrogen study


Inpex and its partners, Australian oil and gas major Santos, Scotland-headquartered energy consultancy Xodus Group, and Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, has been awarded $1 million in funding for a feasibility study into the market potential of clean hydrogen produced from both renewables and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage in Darwin.

The Darwin Clean Hydrogen Hub joint study will look at opportunities to supply hydrogen solutions to domestic and international customers.

Over 18 months, the joint study will examine market demand for hydrogen and its derivatives including methanol and ammonia, renewable energy sites and infrastructure needed to produce and deliver hydrogen, and domestic and international hydrogen supply chains.

Japan’s Inpex, which operates the Ichthys LNG plant near Middle Arm Point, said the study will also explore the demand for hydrogen production from natural gas and carbon capture and storage capacity requirements.

Inpex Australia President Director Tetsu Murayama said the study has the potential to inform investment decisions with the company planning to commercialise three or more hydrogen projects globally by about 2030 with the aim of producing 100,000 tonnes or more of hydrogen/ammonia per year.

“This Inpex-led study has the potential to support Darwin’s cleaner energy future by identifying new market opportunities in hydrogen,” Murayama said. “(It) has the potential to inform future investment decisions contributing to northern Australia’s hydrogen value chain development.”

The announcement of Inpex’s involvement in the joint study comes just days after the Japanese government adopted a revision to the country’s plans to use more hydrogen in its shift towards a low carbon economy.

Under the revised Basic Hydrogen Strategy, Japan plans to increase the annual supply of hydrogen to 12 million tons by 2040, six times the current level. Japan also plans to generate $160 billion (15 trillion yen) in public- and private-sector investment to build up hydrogen-related supply chains over the next 15 years.

“Hydrogen is an industrial sector that can make a triple achievement of decarbonisation, stable energy supply and economic growth in one shot,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said. “We will promote (hydrogen) on a large scale, both demand and supply.”

Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison said the creation of a hydrogen industry in Darwin will not only provide cleaner energy to the region but will also generate jobs.

“This study is an investment in our future technology, which will enable more development in the energy industry, resulting in more jobs and better outcomes for Territorians,” she said. “Not only will Darwin become a significant hydrogen hub for the nation, this will also strengthen the relationship between the Territory and our trade partners.”

The joint study is intended to complement the NT government’s work being conducted with the CSIRO, Inpex, Santos, Xodus, Woodside Energy and Eni to establish a carbon capture and storage common-user hub at Middle Arm.

The funding for the Darwin Clean Hydrogen Hub joint study was supplied under the Australian government’s Regional Hydrogen Hubs: Development and Design Grants program.

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