French renewable energy company Total Eren, which is 30% owned by France-based multinational oil and gas company Total, has signed a binding memorandum of understanding with Western Australia company Province Resources, agreeing to complete a scoping study which could potentially lead to each company holding a 50% stake in the proposed HyEnergy Zero Carbon Hydrogen project.
The agreement marks a big step for Province, which originated as a gold and nickel exploration company and has only just entered the renewable energy game. Despite the excitement around its proposed HyEnergy project, which initially proposed installing 1 GW of hybrid solar and wind capacity to produce 60,000 tons of green hydrogen per year, the company could hardly be considered a major player.
The backing of Total Eren, however, changes the game entirely. Total Eren has 3.3 GW of global renewable energy power plants around the world, and successfully developed, financed and constructed Victoria’s largest solar farm, the Kiamal Solar Farm. It has a team of 20 renewable energy professionals in Australia.
Its support gives the HyEnergy project significantly more prowess, offering it far more robust financial backing and expertise. It has also seen ambition skyrocket, with the two companies now saying they plan to install 8 GW of renewable energy at the Gascoyne site.
The deal will see the companies perform a feasibility study for the hydrogen project, with the pair aiming to execute definitive agreements within four months.
Each company will bear its own costs during the development stage, and if they decide to move forward with the partnership, each will have a 50% stake in the project. In which case, the development of the integrated hybrid renewable energy capacity would be led by Total Eren, and will take place in two stages.
The involvement of Total Eren will also likely de-risk the project, which is Province Resources first foray into the world of utility-scale green energy.
Fabienne Demol, Executive Vice-President and Global Head of Business Development of Total Eren, said the company is pleased to partner with Province on its “ambitious” project, highlighting its potential significance.
“This new step demonstrates our strong commitment to the Australian market towards the decarbonization of the country and is also a concrete opportunity to kick off our Hydrogen strategy worldwide,” she stated. “After solar, wind, and storage, we believe Hydrogen is the next step of growth of renewable energies. We are determined to leverage our development and technical skills to make our first of several Hydrogen Projects in Australia a success.”
Earlier this month, Province announced it had applied for additional 864 square kilometers of tenure for the HyEnergy project, in addition to the 2,272 square kilometers it is securing in Gascoyne. The region of Gascoyne was selected in part because of its infrastructure, which includes the Dampier Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline and the North West Coastal Highway.
It also has considerable wind speeds and solar exposure. Province has appointed Sydney-based technology company Fulcrum3D to collect preliminary wind and solar data every 10 minutes within the project area to further assess the natural resource potential. In March, Province also appointed multinational ERM to de-risk the project for the raft of necessary approvals.
The cracking pace of the project, which has seen Province’s share price increase by over 400% since February, is seeking to capitalize on Australia’s wave of hydrogen enthusiasm. As the company has noted, Western Australia’s Hydrogen Strategy has devoted AUD10 million ($7.7 million) worth of funding to green hydrogen, while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has earmarked AUD70 million and the Australian Government’s Advancing Hydrogen Fund has set aside AUD300 million.
“Given the recent drive by state and federal governments to quickly develop and advance the green hydrogen industry in Australia, I am confident this project will be of strategic national importance,” Province Resource’s Managing Director, David Frances, said.
“Management is excited to have a global renewable energy leader such as Total Eren as a partner with the technical and financial capability to help Province deliver this project as part of the backbone of the nation’s hydrogen strategy.”
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