The Western Australian government will provide up to $117.5 million in investment funds to support the creation of the two hydrogen hubs in the Pilbara and the state’s mid-West.
The proposed hubs, announced on Thursday, are part of the government’s highly ambitious green hydrogen plans, matched by the outsized plans of iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest, the huge hydrogen plans put forward by CWP Global, and other projects put forward by a host of other major international companies.
The WA government said that the Pilbara Hydrogen Hub would include the construction of a hydrogen or ammonia pipeline between the Maitland and Burrup strategic industrial areas and a new ‘training and research institute’ to be based in either Port Hedland or Karratha.
The Mid West Clean Hydrogen Hub would be centred around the Oakajee Strategic Industrial Area, just north of Geraldton, which will include hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for transport applications.
Premier Mark McGowan said the funding would allow the state to take advantage of its export connections and access to high quality renewable energy resources.
“Western Australia has every advantage to be a world leader in renewable hydrogen, and we are committed to providing the support to make these job-creating projects a reality,” McGowan said.
“The Pilbara and Mid-West are second to none among regions around the country in offering the competitive advantages needed to drive successful local hydrogen industries.”
The WA government said it had applied to the federal government for matched funding through its Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs program, potentially boosting the amount of funding available to support the hubs to $235 million.
State hydrogen minister Alannah MacTiernan said the regions chosen to host the hubs had already attracted significant interest from potential hydrogen investors and called on the federal government to back the plan.
“Both the Pilbara and Mid-West are attracting global attention for their renewable hydrogen potential, with energy companies from across the world setting their sights on WA,” MacTiernan said.
“We want to partner with the Federal Government to embrace this job-creating opportunity for Western Australia, which will make a significant contribution to global efforts towards net zero emissions.”
The WA government said they expected the funding to support the creation of around 2,000 new jobs in the hydrogen sector.
The state has been earmarked by a number of potential renewable hydrogen projects, including some massive plans floated by CWP Global, which include the Asian Renewable Energy Hub and the Western Green Energy Hub.
Either of these projects, if built, would likely become the world’s largest development of wind and solar capacity – designed to power the production of hydrogen for export.
The WA government has previously said that it could support the construction of as much as 100GW of renewable generation capacity by 2030 as part of its push into hydrogen production, and that amount again by 2040.
Last week, the WA State government flagged legislative changes that would make it easier for projects to secure approved land tenure for renewable energy and hydrogen developments.
The legislative changes follow a complaint by Forrest that ‘red tape’ had made it too difficult to pursue his own hydrogen ambitions in Western Australia, saying that he intended to develop a project in Queensland instead.
Renewable hydrogen has emerged as a potential solution to cutting emissions in otherwise hard to abate industries, including heavy transport, metals processing and ammonia production.
While a recent investor survey suggested that investment managers may have tempered their enthusiasm for hydrogen projects, recent analysis produced by the International Energy Agency found that global green hydrogen consumption may need to reach 212 million tonnes annually by 2030, to keep the world on track to keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees.
Global hydrogen use currently sits at around 87 million tonnes annually, most of which is used in industrial operations, including ammonia production, but the IEA estimated that by 2050, this may need to exceed 500 million tonnes annually, providing a massive potential future market for green hydrogen producers.