Australian hydrogen project featuring 5GW of renewables secures investment firm backing

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Image: ARENA.

A Western Australian renewable hydrogen facility that will be powered by 5GW of solar PV and onshore wind has secured the backing of Danish investment firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP).

Announced in October last year, the Murchison Renewable Hydrogen Project will be constructed near the town of Kalbarri in the mid-west of Western Australia and will provide hydrogen exports to Asian markets such as Japan and South Korea. The facility is being developed by Hydrogen Renewables Australia and will feature electrolysers from German firm Siemens.

It is expected the partnership with CIP will enable the facility to proceed with its planned development to assess the feasibility of producing competitive hydrogen exports.

“We believe Murchison represents the best combined wind and solar resource in Australia, and the project complements our existing activities in Australia,” said Michael Hannibal, partner at CIP.

When launching its Renewable Hydrogen Strategy last year, the government of Western Australia revealed its ambition to become a “significant producer, exporter and user” of green hydrogen. The plan, which noted the state’s comparative advantage due to its geographical proximity to Asia, said the value of Australia’s potential low-emissions hydrogen exports could reach AU$2.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) by 2030 and AU$5.7 billion (US$4.15 billion) by 2040.

As part of the state’s effort to bounce back from the impacts of COVID-19, the Western Australian government in August announced nine initiatives to fuel its renewable hydrogen industry. The strategy aims to boost the sector across four areas: export, use in remotely located industries, blending in natural gas networks and use in fuel cell electric transport vehicles.

Other proposed green hydrogen projects in Western Australia have since moved forward, with environmental approval for the first 15GW stage of a renewable energy hub in the Pilbara region securing environmental approval and the government releasing a global expressions of interest call for another green hydrogen project that could feature up to 1,250MW of solar energy.

Australia’s federal government, meanwhile, is backing hydrogen as one of five technologies to slash emissions. The country’s budget, released last month, included a AU$70.2 million (US$49.9 million) spend over five years on a hydrogen export hub to build on hydrogen-related agreements the country has with Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Germany.

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