55 MW Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub lands NSW planning approval

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New South Wales (NSW) government planning approval has been granted to Australian energy giant Origin Energy Future Fuels’ Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub, which will produce 1 GW of electrolyser capacity within the next decade, and 5,500 tonnes of hydrogen per annum.

Located on Kooragang Island near Newcastle, in the proposed $100 million (USD 66.3 million) Port of Newcastle Clean Energy Precinct, the project is being developed  by Origin in collaboration with Australia-headquartered ammonium nitrate manufacturer Orica.

The majority of the hydrogen produced at the hub will used by Orica to decarbonise its nearby manufacturing plant, saving the equivalent of 52,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Hydrogen will also be made available to transport customers through onsite and satellite refuelling stations

NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said the government is committed to seeing viable renewable projects move through the planning system efficiently to make sure the state remains focused on the goal of net zero by 2050.

“Without a supportive or efficient planning system in NSW we are not going to have the investment we need to decarbonise our industries and support job growth in our regions,” he said.

Construction of the hub is scheduled to begin mid-2025, when hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis, using recycled water and grid-connected electricity supported by the surrender of large-scale renewable generation certificates (LGCs).

The majority of the hub’s hydrogen will go to a nearby facility operated Orica to help decarbonise its operations.

Image: Origin Energy

Origin aims to develop new renewable generation assets or enter into long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with NSW renewable energy developers to secure the energy required for the project and said “all energy supplied would be certified as renewable from PPAs or from Origin’s LGC portfolio, resulting in hydrogen produced from the hub having a small net carbon footprint.”

The Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub will be located in a proposed Port of Newcastle Clean Energy Precinct on Kooragang Island.

Image: Port of Newcastle

The Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub will be located in a proposed Port of Newcastle Clean Energy Precinct on Kooragang Island.

Orica Managing Director and CEO Sanjeev Gandhi said developing a hydrogen hub with partners strategically located at Port of Newcastle next to their existing ammonia operations in Newcastle, with an established end market, puts the goal of establishing an Australian renewable hydrogen and ammonia industry with export capability, within reach.

Origin Energy Future Fuels is one of six successful applicants to the first round of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)’s $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart Program, which applied for the Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub Phase 1 50MW and Phase 2 200 MW electrolyser size for ammonia and mobility end use.

The Hunter Hydrogen Hub has previously been funded $45 million from the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and $70 million from the federal government DCCEEW.

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