German-Canadian consortium to deliver SA hydrogen plant

Brandon How

The South Australian government has named energy infrastructure firm ATCO and gas firm BOC as the preferred partners to deliver the core of its $593 million hydrogen jobs plan.

The two firms were selected following a six-month evaluation assessment process, beating out 29 other bids to build a 250MWe electrolyser and 200MW hydrogen power station in Whyalla, with some on-site storage.

ATCO Australia, a subsidiary of its Canadian namesake, and BOC, a subsidiary of German chemicals and engineering firm Linde, have entered an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) agreement with the state government.

The project is expected to commence operations in early 2026, pushed back from the initially estimated commencement date of December 2025.

The Hydrogen Jobs Plan was a key election commitment of the Malinauskas government, which have previously estimated that the electrolyser, power station and hydrogen storage facility would cost $220 million, $342 million and $31 million, respectively.

ATCO Australia and BOC will undertake detailed project and engineering design, procurement of critical equipment, finalisation of contracting arrangements, and cost estimations.

Adelaide-based EPIC Energy has been named as the preferred partner for an integrated pipeline and hydrogen storage solution, and has also signed an ECI agreement. The storage facility was originally expected to have a 3,600 tonne capacity, roughly two months’ worth of production at the facility.

In December, the state government announced that its preferred development sites are at Whyalla Industrial Estate or Cultana Industrial Estate.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said that hydrogen presents a huge export opportunity for the state, similar to “Victoria’s gold rush, the coal boom in Queensland, or Western Australia’s development of iron ore and gas”.

“We have all the things the world will need to decarbonise – abundant copper and magnetite, the world’s best coincident wind and solar resources, world-leading renewable energy penetration and soon, the ability to harness this abundant clean energy in the form of hydrogen,” he said.

“We can use this clean hydrogen to firm our electricity grid, but more than that, we can use it to help reindustrialise the Upper Spencer Gulf, creating thousands of jobs in the process.”

ATCO cancelled a prospective $46.1 million green hydrogen project in Western Australia earlier this year, releasing a $28.7 million commitment from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Reportedly, the firm cited the low expected demand for green hydrogen in the state given the low cost of natural gas.

The Clean Energy Innovation Park project would’ve featured a 10MW electrolyser, with the produced green hydrogen to be used in blending with natural gas.

Meanwhile, another Linde subsidiary is progressing ambitions to build an electrolyser manufacturing facility in Western Australia.

The progress of the Whyalla project builds on the execution of a $70 million federal grant to support the development of the $100 million Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub, also near Whyalla. The port is expected to be the state’s first large-scale hydrogen export terminal.

The project was initiated by the former state Liberal government with six proposed hydrogen producers selected to support development of common user infrastructure and port upgrades to the area.

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