The South Australia Liberal government has named three hydrogen hubs that it expects will result in an “epic” growth in wind and solar capacity in the state, and enable it to become a major energy exporter to the rest of the country and the world.
While the federal Coalition government complains that there is “too much wind and solar” in the grid, and some Coalition members describe solar as a “hoax on the gullible”, South Australia energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan on Tuesday launched the Liberal government’s hydrogen prospectus which it says could expand the state’s wind and solar capacity by up to six fold.
“Hydrogen is shaping up as a game-changer in the fight against climate change and our aim is to get the cost down so that it’s a commercially attractive option for heavy transport, power generation and use by industry,” said the Minister.
“This prospectus reveals that South Australia can become a national and international exporter of clean power, while achieving the goal of net-100% renewable energy.”
South Australia is already a world leader in the deployment of wind and solar, which produced more than 57 per cent of state demand over the last 12 months, and on many occasions more than 100 per cent. Just over a week ago, its solar resources produced more than 100 per cent of state demand in one half hour period, a world first.
The state government has a target of reaching “net 100 per cent” renewables before 2030, and become a net exporter of wind and solar. This will likely accelerate that timeline. Indeed, it could take it to 300 per cent renewables, given the scale of the projects being considered.
The state – which already has the country’s biggest electrolyser to date at the Tonsley Park in Adelaide – has named three hydrogen hubs to be created at Port Bonython, Port Adelaide and Cape Hardy/Port Spencer.
Van Holst Pellekaan says just one of the hydrogen hubs could at least double the current installed capacity of solar and wind in South Australia, which is just over 2GW of large scale wind and solar and over 3GW if you include rooftop solar.
The document says that the hub at Port Bonython in the Upper Spencer Gulf could export industrial-scale green hydrogen around the huge wind and solar installations already built or planned for the region around Whyalla and Port Augusta.
Both Port Bonython and Port Spencer could support green electrolysers of up to 2.5GW, which in turn would support wind and solar additions of between 6GW and 6.5GW at each facility, which would take the state’s wind and solar capacity to around 300 per cent of current state demand.
The Port Adelaide facility is described as “localised” green energy, supporting up to around 800MW of contracted wind and solar, while Port Bonython is also earmarked for an additional “blue-green” hydrogen hub that would include some of the state’s gas resources.
“This is a key step in our plan to make South Australia a consumer and exporter of clean hydrogen,” the minister said in a statement.
“This new Prospectus and modelling tool cements our credentials as a world-class place to do business and leading renewable hydrogen producer and supplier to the world.”
The hydrogen prospectus says that hydrogen will allow the world to rethink ways to generate and store energy, power transport fleets and heat homes.
“There is no doubt that hydrogen production could be a transformative technology,” it says. “It will challenge industries to rethink their current processing, trigger close examinations of our gas pipelines and ports, and inspire a different mindset on how we fuel our transport sector.”
The three hubs identified are the ones that have come up through the modelling work as being the most cost-effective. Project proponents will be using the data provided in the prospectus to help accelerate their project development, and it includes landing costs in prospective markets such as Japan and South Korea.
The announcement was welcomed by the Australian Hydrogen Council, which said hubs are vital to Australia’s hydrogen industry as they facilitate the large scale demand that is needed to get the industry to scale.
“The three hydrogen hubs detailed in the prospectus could put South Australia in a fantastic position to meet the growing domestic and export demand for hydrogen,” it said in a statement. “We are particularly pleased to see the creation of the Hydrogen Modelling Tool, and hope this important work could be rolled out across the country.”