South Australia has short-listed seven major renewable hydrogen projects for its proposed Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub as it ramps up plans to export wind and solar power to the world, as well as neighbouring states.
The state government says the projects amount to “tens of billions” of dollars of investment, and together could produce more than 1.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen a year, potentially turning the state into one of the most significant renewable hydrogen producers in the world.
South Australia already leads the world in the share of wind and solar in its grid. Over the past year, wind and solar has met more than 62 per cent of local demand, which has jumped to nearly 80 per cent in the past week after constraints were relaxed after the introduction of synchronous condensers.
It expects to reach “net 100 per cent renewables” by 2030 (likely well before then) and became an exporter of green energy through new “freeways” such as the $2.3 billion Project Energy Connect transmission link to NSW due to be finished in 2024.
It also aims to export green energy to the world, part of longer term plans to attract at least another 15GW of wind and solar projects, and so produce “500 per cent renewables”, with most being exported in the form of green hydrogen, green ammonia, or other green products.
“Seven shortlisted projects from both Australian and international heavy-hitters are proposing tens of billions of dollars of investment, potentially creating hundreds of local jobs, in all parts of the hydrogen supply chain,” Premier Steven Marshall said in a statement.
“Together, the seven shortlisted projects could produce over one and a half million tonnes of hydrogen per annum, which would make South Australia one of the most significant producers of hydrogen in the world.
“The level of investment proposed would make the Spencer Gulf a world class renewable energy industrial precinct and deliver regional jobs growth for decades to come in the towns of Whyalla, Port Augusta, Port Pirie – and beyond.”
The government did not identify the names of the project developers, but likely players include France’s Neoen, who have two projects in the state likely to fit the bill – Goyder South and Crystal Brook.
Also possible are international energy giants Iberdrola and Enel Green Power, who also have significant renewable investments in South Australia and big announced hydrogen projects overseas, and billionaire Andrew Forrest, who has announced ambitious plans for 15 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen production by 2030.
“Since coming to office my Government has laid the foundations for South Australia to produce 500 per cent renewable energy by 2050 and reap the renewable jobs and investment bonanza that outcome will deliver,” Marshall said in the statement.
The State Government is now negotiating with shortlisted parties, aiming to finalised arrangements with partners to be announced in coming months. It is understood the offers come from all along the hydrogen production chain.
“The response from industry to the Port Bonython EOI shows that we can turn our 500% renewable energy by 2050 vision into a reality,” energy minister Dan Van Holst Pellekaan said in a statement.
“The Marshall Government stabilised South Australia’s power grid, brought down the cost of electricity and accelerated towards net-100% renewables by 2030.
“The SA-NSW Interconnector means we can export renewable energy interstate – the Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub will allow us to export it internationally.
“South Australia was once known for the challenges in adopting renewables, but in three short years the world now sees us as the success story. Wholesale prices are some of the lowest in the country, we’re the world leader in home batteries, and we’re securely running on over 60% renewables.”
The Port Bonython hub includes access to multiple renewable energy zones and boasts over 2,000 hectares of available land as well as access to an existing deepwater port comprising a 2.4km long jetty.
The site is home to Santos’ fossil fuel processing plant, which receives gas liquids and crude oil piped 659km from the Moomba plant for export, and a diesel fuel import and storage terminal.