Siemens backs 5 GW green hydrogen plan for Australia

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From pv magazine Australia.

A massive clean energy project aiming to produce green hydrogen powered by up to 5 GW of solar and wind generation capacity has been unveiled for Western Australia. In a significant early stage milestone, Hydrogen Renewables Australia has joined forces with Siemens to deploy the latter’s Silyzer electrolyzer at the Murchison project.

Situated just north of the coastal town of Kalbarri in the midwest of the state, the location had been identified in a study by U.S. engineering multinational AECOM as one of Australia’s best for its combination of solar and wind potential.

“We believe that [the] Murchison Renewable Hydrogen Project’s location is the best in Australia for combined solar and wind, making it one of the most cost-effective spots to produce clean energy,” said Terry Kallis, executive chairman of Hydrogen Renewables Australia. “We also believe that the project will contribute significantly to the national, state and local objectives for new investment, new jobs, renewable energy sources and new export markets.”

Three-stage plan

The Murchison project is set to be developed in stages including a demonstration phase providing hydrogen for transport fuels, an expansion to blend hydrogen with natural gas in the nearby Dampier-to-Bunbury pipeline and a larger expansion to produce hydrogen for Asian markets, notably Japan and South Korea.

Another significant development for the project came with the Nanda Aboriginal Corporation’s formal support for the section 91 license needed to permit solar and wind monitoring to proceed. The developer and the aboriginal corporation have started working on an indigenous land use agreement that is expected to be finalized next year.

Murchison is the second huge green hydrogen production facility proposed for Western Australia, following the 15 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub plan put forward by a consortium of Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, New York-based interconnector business Intercontinental Energy, Euro-Australian renewables developer CWP Energy Asia and domestic investor Macquarie Group. The hub is intended to export power to Southeast Asia via subsea cables as well as supplying miners and green hydrogen projects in the Pilbara region, in northwest Western Australia.

The world looks on

Siemens welcomed the focus on hydrogen in Australia and noted Europe as well as Asia is eyeing the nation as a potential hydrogen giant. “Australia has potential like no other country in the world for hydrogen production and export – as long as we act upon the opportunity quickly,” said Jeff Connolly, CEO of Siemens Australia Pacific. “It’s heartening to see strong, recent bipartisan leadership at both federal and state levels for hydrogen.”

This year the Western Australia state government launched a strategy to set a course for a renewable hydrogen future with a focus on four strategic investment areas: export, use of renewable hydrogen in remote applications, blending into the gas network and use in transport. To support projects on the ground, the authority last month opened a $10 million (US$6.74 million) renewable hydrogen fund and made cash available for feasibility studies and demonstration or capital works projects, to help facilitate further private investment.

The proposed new 5 GW green hydrogen facility has received a favorable initial response. Hydrogen Renewables Australia has undertaken preliminary discussions with key representatives of the Western Australian and national governments, Northampton Shire Council, Nanda Aboriginal Corporation and several other local stakeholders.