Australia’s Northern Territory fast tracks US$10bn green hydrogen facility

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The green hydrogen facility will be powered using 10GW of solar PV. Image: Total Eren.

The US$10.75 billion Desert Bloom Hydrogen project in Australia’s Northern Territory has been granted Major Project Status by the regional government, fast tracking the project and paving the way for commercial production of the 10GW green hydrogen facility by 2023.

Desert Bloom, which is being developed by technology company Aqua Aerem, will begin operating in 2022 and will produce green hydrogen at less than US$2/kg by 2027, exporting roughly 410,000 metric tonnes of hydrogen when at full operation.

“Within two years, Desert Bloom will supply hydrogen for power generation in the Northern Territory, and within five years, it will produce green hydrogen for export at less than US$2/kg,” said Aqua Aerem co-founder and CEO Gerard Reiter.

The project will use solar energy to power its electrolysis process, which uses a “world-first” air-to-water technology that will extract water from the air rather than being dependent of fresh water supplies, meaning it can be built in the arid Australian outback.

“Our air-to-water technology, which solves this previously intractable water supply problem, is a world first; invented and developed here in Australia,” said Reiter.

Initially located at Tennant Creek, close to existing gas and pipeline infrastructure that can be repurposed for hydrogen, Desert Bloom will consist of modular hydrogen production units, each with an electrolyser capacity of 2MW. Aqua Aerem plans to deploy up to 4,000 of these modular units at the Desert Bloom project.

Aqua Aerem is backed by Singapore-based Sanguine Impact Investment, which is providing the capital for the project and has executed an agreement with one of Japan’s largest gas buyers and distributors to invest in the project.

An agreement with Territory Generation – the Northern Territory’s power utility – has been signed with the intention to offtake hydrogen from the initial stages of the project.

The news comes amid a flurry of activity on green hydrogen in Australia. In November Australian energy company Global Energy Venture (GEV) announced plans to develop a 2.8GW green hydrogen project on the Australian Tiwi Islands, while in July an international consortium proposed a renewable 50GW energy hub for the production of green hydrogen in Western Australia.

And in May, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) selected three commercial-scale green hydrogen projects that will share in AU$103 million (US$79.7 million) of funding to support their development.

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