Woodside has unveiled plans to build a gas-powered hydrogen and ammonia production facility in Western Australia that will not directly source renewable energy, but rather shoot for “net-zero emissions” via green power and carbon offsets and abatement, such as carbon capture and storage.
The oil and gas giant said on Monday that the project, called H2Perth, was a phased development that, at its full potential, would be one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world, producing up to 1500 tonnes a day of hydrogen for export in the form of ammonia and liquid hydrogen.
The project is proposed for construction on approximately 130 hectares of vacant industrial land to be leased cheaply from the Western Australia government in the Kwinana Strategic Industrial Area and Rockingham Industry Zone, in southern metropolitan Perth.
According to Woodside, hydrogen and ammonia from H2Perth will be produced using both electrolysis technologies and natural gas reforming – the latter initially requiring 40 terajoules per day of natural gas – with 100% of carbon emissions created in the process abated or offset.
The electrolysis component of H2Perth’s production will have an initial capacity of 250MW, with potential to scale to more than 3GW alongside both customer demand and renewable energy growth.
No detail was given on the power source for the facility’s electrolysers in the project’s first stages, but a company spokesperson said that there was “scope” for renewable energy to be phased into the project as it grew in size.
Until then, that means that output from the facility will not be green – at least in the project’s first phase. At best, the hydrogen produced via steam methane reformation could be classed as blue, and would be far from emissions-free, even factoring in CCS.
Nonetheless, Woodside’s H2Perth plans were welcomed in a separate statement by the WA government as one of the world’s largest clean energy production facilities, developed to supply lower cost hydrogen to domestic markets and “directly contribute to WA’s renewable energy future.”
This contribution will not come from developing new large-scale solar or wind farms to power the electrolyers at the plant, but by using the electrolysers to stabilise of the state’s electricity network by switching them on and off quickly).
“This can help the network support more intermittent renewable power, such as residential rooftop PV and large-scale renewable generation, as the State transitions to greener electricity,” the Woodside statement says.
“H2Perth will …facilitate substantial growth of renewables in Western Australia by providing to the grid a flexible and stabilising load that benefits uptake of intermittent renewable electricity by households and local industry,” said Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill in a statement.
“We will also be supporting local manufacturing jobs and opportunities,” she added.
“Woodside has a proud track record as an Australian oil and gas producer and our LNG exports will continue helping Asia to reliably meet its energy needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come.
“Now, we intend to use our skills and financial strength to add new energy products and lower-carbon technologies and services to our portfolio, which can be scaled to meet customer demand,” O’Neill said.