Proposed 3.6GW Aussie complex adds to year of green hydrogen

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Green hydrogen has entered the radar of policymakers weighing the technologies set to fuel the post-COVID recovery. Image credit: Reilly Butler / Flickr.

Yet another major green hydrogen initiative has seen the light in Australia, joining a recent flurry of activity in a year where countries are betting on the renewable gas as a COVID-19 recovery pillar.

This week, news emerged of a plan by Austrom Hydrogen Pty Ltd to deploy a 3.6GW solar-plus-storage complex in the state of Queensland, meant to power the mass production of green hydrogen that would be exported to Asia at a later stage.

In a statement, the entity said it has now secured enough land for the Pacific Solar Hydrogen scheme near the town of Callide, a seven-hour drive northwest from state capital Brisbane and a one-hour drive west from the port city of Gladstone.

Austrom – who wants the solar fleet to power the production of 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year – plans to use the port-side location to export the renewable gas to Japan, South Korea and others. Imports from the complex alone could meet 60% of Japan’s goals for 2030, it is estimated.

In addition, Austrom believes Callide’s proximity to existing power infrastructure adds to the appeal. The developer has commissioned environmental and irradiation assessments for the 3.6GW complex and is reportedly approaching “key industry stakeholders to streamline the development process.”

In Australia, Pacific Solar Hydrogen comes to join a raft of solar-powered green hydrogen initiatives. So far this year (see below), the country has witnessed the environmental go-ahead for a 15GW wind and solar scheme in Western Australia and the launch by BP of a research scheme.

The current spotlight on green hydrogen extends beyond the Oceanian state, however. In Europe – where industry majors proposed last year a 2GW-a-year PV-to-hydrogen scheme – policymakers have singled it out as a COVID-19 recovery axis, paving the way for a funding boom.   

The renewable gas is also becoming the choice of individual countries, with Portugal announcing in April 2020 plans for a 1GW solar-powered plant and Germany reported to follow suit by agreeing today (Wednesday 10 June 2020) on a €7 billion green hydrogen strategy.

Green hydrogen’s rise to policy priority: A timeline of PV Tech coverage

11 October 2019: Meyer Burger and others launch plans for 2GW-a-year solar factory, set to equip PV plants meant to power green hydrogen production (see here for the full PV Tech story)

5 May 2020: Western Australia gives environmental nod to Asian Renewable Energy Hub, a scheme for 15GW of solar and wind to power green hydrogen production (see here for the full PV Tech story)

11 May 2020: BP and GHG Advisory bag Australian state funding towards AU$4.4 million feasibility study, set to explore the use of renewables for electrolysis (see here for the full PV Tech story)

26 May 2020: Leaked EU draft shows bloc will link renewable fortunes to those of green hydrogen, with goal for EU-wide production to hit one-million-tonne mark per year (see here for the full PV Tech story)

28 May 2020: Publication of actual EU proposals for COVID recovery confirms green hydrogen will be a priority of post-pandemic policies (see here for the full PV Tech story)

8 June 2020: US Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden includes green hydrogen in manifesto as party lawmakers call for a “robust” clean energy recovery plan (see here for the full PV Tech story)

9 June 2020: Austrom Hydrogen’s proposes 3.6GW solar-plus-storage hybrid to power hydrogen exports to Asia (see story above)

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