Origin, Fortescue look at massive renewable hydrogen projects in Tasmania | RenewEconomy

Origin, Fortescue look at massive renewable hydrogen projects in Tasmania

Origin and Fortescue look at huge green hydrogen projects in Tasmania, using hydro and wind resources to produce both ammonia and hydrogen.

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Australian energy utility Origin Energy has unveiled a proposal to build a massive renewable hydrogen facility in Tasmania to target export-scale green hydrogen opportunities and an ammonia plan in Bell Bay, and Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals has also flagged a major green hydrogen project in the same state.

The announcements are part of a number of huge renewable hydrogen projects mooted around Australia, including several in Western Australia, a series of hubs planned by South Australia, and a push by the Queensland government to do the same around Gladstone and other centres.

They are also two of four different renewable hydrogen project proposals announced by the Tasmania government on Tuesday in its budget.

The portfolio includes proposals also for ABEL Energy’s 100MW green hydrogen and methanol export project at Bell Bay, and Grange Resources’ 90-100 MW renewable hydrogen project to provide process heat at its Port Latta facility. Fortescue says it will make a final investment decision on a 250MW green hydrogen and ammonia facility, also for Bell Bay.

Energy minister Guyy Barnett said there are more smaller projects in the pipeline.

“It’s more confirmation of Tasmania’s competitive advantages in renewable hydrogen production, based on our low-cost, abundant and reliable renewable energy resources, our access to plentiful fresh water and our prime ‘hydrogen hub’ locations such as the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone,” he said in a statement.

“That’s why the Budget locks in $16 million across the forward estimates for the Tasmanian Renewable Hydrogen Development Fund that will help to kick-start the renewable hydrogen industry in Tasmania, with these studies signalling the first step in this process.”

“Although we are not progressing smaller projects from this round, the Tasmanian Government remains committed to supporting large and smaller-scale renewable hydrogen projects in order to build and demonstrate our renewable hydrogen capabilities, test our regulatory frameworks and build social licence.”

Origin says it will look to exploit the state’s excellent hydro resources and wind potential. It adds to the ambitious programs for that state, where the Liberal government has a stated and legislated target of 200 per cent renewables through its plan to build new transmission links to Victoria to export its surplus energy and turn its hydro and wind resources into a massive “battery”.

Origin is contemplating a 500MW electrolyser, or bigger, which is seven times bigger than the one recently committed in South Australia, and would be one of the biggest in the world if it goes ahead, and could begin production in the mid 2020s, well before proposed Marinus Link to the mainland is complete. The Tasmania government is contributing $1.6 million to the study.

“We are excited to be partnering with the Tasmanian Government on this groundbreaking plan to use 100 per cent renewable energy and sustainable water to power one of the world’s first export scale green hydrogen and ammonia plants,” Origin’s general manager of future fuels Felicity Underhill said in a statement.

“Hydrogen produced from renewable energy has tremendous potential to support decarbonisation in Australia and overseas because it is one of the most abundant elements in the universe and can be produced with zero emissions.

Underhill says Origin has been exploring how hydrogen can best fit into Australia’s energy system, and said that this is one of a number of opportunities that it is looking at, either to stimulate a domestic hydrogen economy or to enable the export of energy produced from renewable sources.

Origin says the green hydrogen will be produced from “sustainable water” using renewable energy, primarily hydro and wind.

The hydrogen will then be combined with nitrogen extracted from the air to create green ammonia, which can be safely and efficiently shipped to export markets. It says a plant of 500MW or more could produce more than 420,000 tonnes of zero emissions ammonia per year.

Potential uses for the hydrogen and ammonia include electricity generation and as transportation fuel. Some of the hydrogen produced will be made available domestically to support Tasmania’s decarbonisation ambitions.

  • Minister for Energy Guy Barnett said the Tasmanian Government is also pleased to announce Fortescue Metals Group’s potential development of a 250MW hydrogen and green ammonia production facility at Bell Bay, which is targeted for investment decision in 2021.

“Subject to this decision, the project has the potential to create more than 350 construction jobs and 100 operational roles for the initial phase. Using Tasmania’s renewable energy resources, there is opportunity for further expansion,” Minister Barnett said.

“It’s more confirmation of Tasmania’s competitive advantages in renewable hydrogen production, based on our low-cost, abundant and reliable renewable energy resources, our access to plentiful fresh water and our prime ‘hydrogen hub’ locations such as the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone.

“That’s why the Budget locks in $16 million across the forward estimates for the Tasmanian Renewable Hydrogen Development Fund that will help to kick-start the renewable hydrogen industry in Tasmania, with these studies signalling the first step in this process.

“Although we are not progressing smaller projects from this round, the Tasmanian Government remains committed to supporting large and smaller-scale renewable hydrogen projects in order to build and demonstrate our renewable hydrogen capabilities, test our regulatory frameworks and build social licence.”

Minister for State Growth Michael Ferguson said the key to making these smaller projects viable is clearly identifying what the end use will be in Tasmania.

“To support this the Government will be fast tracking work on identifying hydrogen domestic off-take opportunities in Tasmania in areas such as transport, commercial applications and agricultural use that will allow these proposals to progress,” Minister Ferguson said.

“In doing so, we will work closely with business and industry to ensure all opportunities a

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