Atco had planned to locate a 10 MW electrolyser at Warradarge in Western Australia’s midwest and use renewable energy to produce up to four tonnes of green hydrogen a day for blending into the state’s gas network.
The Clean Energy Innovation Park (CEIP) project was to be located alongside Bright Energy Investments’ 180 MW Warradarge wind farm about 250 kilometres north of Perth with the green hydrogen to be trucked south to gas network injection points.
Atco, which operates and maintains WA’s largest gas distribution network, has however backed away from the project citing the disconnect between production facility and end use.
“While we were initially confident we could build CEIP at Warradarge, our ongoing assessment and market development found the benefits of being closer to the end-user of the renewable hydrogen was more commercially viable than locating the CEIP in a more remote location,” the company said in an emailed statement.
“Atco still intends to explore a commercial hydrogen facility however believes it is more feasible to identify opportunities closer to heavy industry where demand will justify the investment.”
“We are confident that as the hydrogen economy in Western Australia grows and demand for renewable hydrogen increases, developing hydrogen plants across the state will become a reality.”
Atco had received $28.7 million (USD 19.4 million) from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to help fund the CEIP project but the company said the change in project fundamentals meant it will not access the funding.
Despite scrapping the CEIP project, Atco continues to explore renewable hydrogen production. It is already producing green hydrogen at a solar-powered facility at Jandakot in Perth’s outer southern suburbs.
The Clean Energy Innovation Hub (CEIH) has been in operation since 2019, producing green hydrogen which is now servicing a high-speed hydrogen refuelling station. Green hydrogen, at levels from 2% to 10%, is also being blended into the existing gas distribution network in the region as part of a two-year trial that commenced during the last quarter of 2022.
The decision to not proceed with the CEIP project comes just weeks after Atco announced it would delay a 325 MW/2,600 MWh pumped hydro project planned for the New South Wales central west until there is a “clear commercial pathway” for the project.
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