The Hydrogen Stream: Plans for $75bn, 50 GW green energy hub in Western Australia


The partners behind the 26 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub in the state of Western Australia, which recently had its environmental permit refused, have announced plans for a mega project twice the size of the Pilbara project.

Hong Kong-based green hydrogen company InterContinental Energy, the CWP Global renewables company owned by Luxembourg-registered venture capital group PostScriptum Ventures, and the Mirning Green Energy organization associated with the Mirning indigenous people whose ancestral lands stretched into western and southern Australia, have unveiled plans for a Western Green Energy Hub.

The AU$100 billion (US$74.7 billion), 15,000km2 project could reach 50 GW of solar and wind power generation capacity to produce 3.5 million tons of green hydrogen or 20 million tons of green ammonia annually.


In a press release about the plans issued today, project chair Brendan Hammond said: “The Western Green Energy Hub is historic on two fronts. First, the scale at which we will be able to deliver green fuels to markets and customers around the world, helping to move us all towards a net-zero future. Second, and possibly more importantly, the way in which we are working with the Mirning People, the original owners of the land, to create a truly long-term and sustainable, multi-generational partnership.”

Anglo-Dutch energy company Shell has signed a memorandum of understanding to explore using gas from the Nyhamna processing plant in Aukra, on the Norwegian Sea, to generate ‘blue hydrogen‘ – powered by gas and featuring carbon capture and storage tech – at the planned Aukra Hydrogen Hub. Shell signed the agreement with the Aker Clean Hydrogen unit of Norway's Aker Group fishing, construction and engineering business and with Bergen-based energy infrastructure company CapeOmega, partners in the Aukra hydrogen project.

“Together we have got what it takes to develop, build and operate the Aukra Hydrogen Hub safely and cost-efficiently,” said Aker Clean Hydrogen CEO Knut Nyborg yesterday. Shell is the operator of the Ormen Lange gas field on the Norwegian continental shelf and is technical service provider at the Nyhamna gas plant. The company is also a partner in the Northern Lights CO2 storage joint venture being driven by Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor.

Decarbonizing industry

That deal was announced after Italian state-backed research body the Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA) and Shell Energy Italia last week signed a three-year agreement to work together to develop hydrogen technologies with a focus on decarbonizing energy-intensive industries, including “steel, cement, glass, ceramics, paper and aluminum,” according to a press release issued to announce the development. The partnership will also examine hydrogen storage and how Italy's well-developed gas infrastructure can be harnessed for hydrogen.

Shell Energy Italia president Massimiliano Mannino, quoted in the note, said: “We are convinced that thanks to ENEA's many years of experience and our knowledge of the market … we can concretely launch innovative and sustainable solutions for the energy transition as well as promote a structural change in final energy consumption.”

Siemens has begun construction of the 8.75 MW Wunsiedel green hydrogen plant in northeast Bavaria which aims to produce up to 1,350 tons of the fuel per year. Featuring an electrolyzer supplied by the Bavarian brand, the facility is being developed to feed hydrogen demand in the German regions of Upper Franconia, Upper Palatinate, Thuringia and Saxony, as well as Western Bohemia in Czechia.

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A statement about the project, issued on Friday, said: “The plant will be constructed at Wunsiedel Energy Park and connected to the existing Siemens battery storage facility and adjacent industrial enterprises. These can use waste heat or the oxygen split off during electrolysis. This connected infrastructure will serve as a model for the whole of Germany.”

Helsinki-based municipal energy company Keravan Energia and compatriot energy tech business Q Power are starting a power-to-methane pilot plant as part of a plan to construct the first full-scale methanation plant in Finland.

“The fuel will be produced from carbon dioxide captured from [a] bioenergy plant smokestack and clean hydrogen,” said the project partners in a note yesterday. Keravan and Q Power conducted a pre-feasibility study this year to determine the project's potential and will work towards a 4-10 MW installation. “The production of synthetic methane will be commenced in September 2021 in a small-scale pilot, designed to validate the methanation process with the specific flue gas composition,” added the statement. “In tandem with the pilot, a feasibility study will be started … The goal is to start the commercial production of synthetic methane in 2024.”

Long-haul transport

New York State-based fuel cell vehicle company Hyzon Motors has signed a memorandum (MoU) of understanding with French energy giant TotalEnergies to intensify cooperation to develop hydrogen refueling and vehicle supply solutions for long-haul transport in Europe.

“This MoU strengthens the existing commercial relationship between one of the world's largest energy companies and a leading supplier of hydrogen commercial vehicles,” read a note released yesterday. TotalEnergies made a direct investment in Hyzon last year to support the U.S. company's manufacturing and engineering centers in the United States, Europe and China. Under a second agreement, the companies will aim to produce 80 hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks for TotalEnergies' French customers by 2023.

New recruits

Global chief executive grouping The Hydrogen Council yesterday announced 14 new members to take it to 123 representatives of utilities, chemical producers, energy companies, engineers, mobility providers and bankers. The organization said, in a press release yesterday: “The Hydrogen Council now includes four new steering members: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Honeywell, Sasol, and Wood; eight new supporting members: Cellcentric, Howden, Indian Oil Corporation, John Cockerill, Komatsu, MAN Energy Solutions, Parker Hannifin Corporation, and TÜV SÜD; and two new investors: Barclays and FiveT Hydrogen.” reads a note released on Monday. The group also announced Tom Linebarger, CEO of U.S. energy engineer Cummins, will take over as co-chair from Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, to sit alongside Benoît Potier, chief of French industrial gas supplier Air Liquide.

A cross-party group of MPs has called on the U.K. to back the HyNet North West project to produce clean hydrogen for industry, transport and homes and to drive the energy transition in the North West of England and North Wales. The facility, which is also intended to capture carbon emissions from industry, is aiming to be starting operation in 2025. A statement issued by the parliamentarians on Friday said: “Justin Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port, and Andy Carter, Conservative MP for Warrington South, have joined HyNet North West as co-chairs of the cross-party coalition group that is urging the government to select HyNet in the first phase of approvals and avoid delays that could hit businesses across the region.”

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