New SA government to pursue $593 million hydrogen commitment

Brandon How

The newly elected Labor government in South Australia will push forward with plans for a $593 million hydrogen hub, while the Queensland government announced plans to invest in a hydrogen demonstration plant.

Before winning last weekend’s poll, South Australian Premier-elect Peter Malinauskas confirmed that the SA Labor party had selected the City of Whyalla as the site for its proposed hydrogen hub. The hub was originally proposed in March 2021 under SA Labor’s hydrogen jobs plan.

The newly elected South Australian government committed to a $593 million hydrogen hub before the election

Separately, the Queensland government made a $28.9 million investment in an ongoing renewable hydrogen demonstration plant and refuelling facilities project. Announced on Tuesday, the investment is a part of the state’s $2 billion renewable energy and hydrogen jobs fund.

The development at Whyalla will include a 200MW hydrogen power station, a 250MWe electrolyser, and a hydrogen storage facility with a 3,600 tonne capacity, the equivalent of two months of production.

Following their election, the SA government is now committed to convening an expert panel to identify the specific location the hub should be built at in the Whyalla and Port Bonython area.

Panel members will include the Barngarla people, Whyhalla Council, the state government, the environment regulator and the utility companies in the state. They will consider cost minimisation, surrounding infrastructure, and the potential for green hydrogen exports among other concerns, the findings of which must be reported within 90 days.

In financial year 2019-20 manufacturing and mining made up almost 83 per cent of Whyalla’s exports. The South Australian ‘Steel City’ is now being dubbed a ‘Hydrogen Valley’ by SA Labor.

When Whyalla was confirmed as the development area on March 2, then-opposition leader Malinauskas said it was perfect “given its prime location, proximity to key infrastructure and diverse skills base.” It is expected to be operational by the end of 2025.

The site will also feature a 2MW solar farm, 4MWh battery, 700kW hydrogen electrolyser, 30kW hydrogen fuel cell, 750kg of hydrogen storage, and an outloading facility.

Meanwhile, the Queensland project by state owned CS energy is due to begin construction in September 2022 and be operational in the following year. The Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Plant is located about 350km east of Brisbane and will produce 50,000kg of renewable hydrogen annually.

Construction will be undertaken by IHI Engineering Australia, which is a subsidiary of Japan-based IHI Corporation. The firm also worked on the project feasibility study in 2021. An associated refuelling network in South West Queensland is still in the development phase.

Queensland’s Minister for Energy, Renewable and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the project continues to push the state’s reputation as a renewables world leader.

“[The Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Project] is one of the most advanced renewable hydrogen projects in Queensland, with CS Energy’s recently announced collaboration with Japan’s Sojitz Corporation to export hydrogen to Palau, as well as strong interest from potential offtakers in the domestic heavy transport and haulage sector,” Mr de Brenni said.

“Queensland has a unique competitive advantage in the production of renewable hydrogen, with our proximity to Asia, established infrastructure, manufacturing capabilities and renewable energy generation.

“The demonstration plant’s hydrogen electrolyser will only be powered by behind-the-meter solar energy, making it one of the few truly renewable hydrogen projects in Australia. A range of businesses will be used to deliver this project, ranging from local contractors for some on-site works and services, to international suppliers of specialised equipment.”

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