Big interest in Australia’s proposed 1.5 GW solar-wind-hydrogen hub


From pv magazine Australia

In September, the Western Australian (WA) government invited worldwide expressions of interest (EOI) for its proposed 1.5 GW wind-solar-hydrogen hub at the Okajee Strategic Industrial Area (Okajee SIA). The midwestern part of the state has some of the world’s best solar and wind resources, and they could feed the development of WA’s green hydrogen economy.

This week, the state government of Premier Mark McGowan revealed that it has received 65 expressions of interest to produce and export renewable hydrogen at the greenfields Okajee SIA, with more than half of the submissions coming from international companies. Okajee SIA is located north of Geraldton.

Early assessments of the site's renewable resources suggest that its world-class wind and solar energy potential could provide up to 270 MW of wind and 1.25 GW of PV. To put this in context, Ad van Wijk, a professor of future energy systems at TU Delft in the Netherlands, estimates that it takes 25 GW of solar to generate 1 million tons of hydrogen annually. The WA government believes that with support from gas firming, it could generate electricity from Okajee SIA at attractive prices

“The strong response to the Okajee EOI process confirmed what we already knew about the strong global appetite for renewable hydrogen, and the enormous potential of the (region),” said WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan. 

According to a WA government statement, EOIs came from Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, France and the United States. About 16% of these submissions expressed a desire to develop and finance an entire green hydrogen export supply chain. Others expressed interest in supplying particular sections of a supply chain such as technology, utilities, manufacturing, and finance.

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The WA government said that at least 10 of the submissions came from ‘super majors,' or companies with global reach and hefty market capitalizations. Unfortunately, this rules out Blockbuster Video. 

“Global economies are hungry for clean, renewable energy, and we have the perfect mix of wind and solar potential that is the envy of the world right here in WA,” continued MacTiernan. “We look forward to working with the companies that expressed interest in this opportunity to bring the production of renewable hydrogen to Western Australia.” 

The EOIs will now be considered by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation with the Mid West Development Commission, Mid West Ports Authority, and DevelopmentWA.

As part of the state’s Recovery Plan the WA government is pushed up its Renewable Hydrogen Strategy targets by a decade (from 2040 to 2030) and topped up its green hydrogen fund. The state is now pumping AUD 28 million ($21.7 million) into the development of the state's renewable hydrogen sector. 

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