There is a green gold rush going on in Australia at the moment. Billions in investment is flowing into the production of green hydrogen. Before you reach for your keyboard, let me stress this hydrogen is green. The plans include massive wind and solar farms. And I am not suggesting it is for use in cars. It will mainly be for our export partners in Asia, particularly Japan, which is pushing for a hydrogen-powered economy.
Although the vast majority of current hydrogen is grey, produced from fracked natural gas, this will be green and some of the current fossil fuel incumbents will be caught with their pants down.
Let’s start with Western Australia.
In the Pilbara, $36 billion is being invested to create the Asian Renewable Hub. Not only will they use solar and wind, but they are also planning to manufacture wind turbines on site. This is cost effective because of the huge distances involved in transporting the massive steel structures. The nearest port is 250 km away. The plan is to produce over 10 million tons of it a year using the power generated by 1743 wind turbines and 25 million solar panels. It is at least a 10 year project. They are going to need a large water source also.
A $94 billion energy hub is being proposed for the Nullarbor (no trees) Plain. This is serious money. The same companies that are behind the Pilbara project are expecting to produce 50 GW of wind and solar power to make 3.5 million tonnes a year of green hydrogen for the export of 20 million tonnes of green ammonia. The traditional owners of the land, the Mirning people, will also hold a stake creating a brighter future for their young people.
Even BP is getting involved, recently doing a feasibility study for a green hydrogen and green ammonia project in Western Australia just north of Perth. They note that costs of production and of providing the infrastructure are still a problem.
Queensland, NSW (they’re going to be using treated wastewater as part of the process) and Tasmania are starting to get interested, but nothing like the scale of Western Australia. Not only are the states racing each other, they must also compete with the EU and the USA. Every country has the ingredients — water and wind and sun. It will be about who can scale up the fastest, who has the will and the determination.
Related story: Green Hydrogen — Where Is It Useful? Where Is It Not?