By Peter Roberts
Major announcements of federal grants and financing support are coming thick and fast with the news over the weekend of cash and support for industrial developments in regional cities Maryvale, Whyalla and Port Augusta.
Opal Australian Paper is getting cash to support its energy from waste project at its Maryvale mill in Victoria, Vast Solar gets a financing package to build a concentrated solar thermal power plant probably at Port Augusta in South Australia, and the Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub Activation project near Whyalla gets $70 million.
The announcements are claimed by the Coalition government to be justified during an election caretaker period.
However in the past nothing like the daily flurry of public cash being spent by an incumbent government has been made during an election campaign.
Some of the assistance was included in the federal budget, but not revealed at the time, only to now surface in the context of an election.
In other cases, the announcements have held up private sector projects announced months ago so they could be made during the campaign.
Canberra has allocated $70 million of its recent budget towards the SA government’s $147 million Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub Activation project, which is aimed at getting hydrogen producers, users and exporters in the same place.
It has also allocated:
- $110 million in finance for a 20-megawatt solar thermal power plant in Port Augusta proposed by Vast Solar
- $20 million to a planned green cement business located in Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Adelaide
- And $15 million for a carbon capture and storage demonstration project at Moomba.
Vast Solar will build a 20MW project with sodium used to store solar thermal energy collected by a solar thermal concentrator.
CEO Craig Wood said the facility would produce dispatchable renewable electricity from the region’s abundant sunshine.
Vast’s plans are unrelated to plans by 1414 Degrees which owns the silicon Aurora project also in South Australia’s mid-north.
However they complement the recently elected state government’s $593 million Hydrogen Jobs Plan, which will see a green hydrogen power station built in the region – the country’s first.
The latest hydrogen hub grants are part of a total of $464 million planned by Canberra to support of the development of up to seven clean hydrogen industrial hubs in regional Australia.
This saw announcements on April 22 of support for four hub developments in Western Australia in the Pilbara, Kwinana, south of Perth and the regional city of Carnarvon.
Meanwhile the Maryvale Energy from Waste (EfW) project has received a $48.2 million grant through the government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI).
Veolia, Masdar Tribe Australia and Opal Australian will construct a $600 million energy from waste facility at Opal Paper’s Maryvale Mill.
The EfW facility will process 325,000 tonnes of residual waste, recovering valuable energy that would otherwise be lost to landfill, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 270,000 tonnes annually.
An Opal general manager David Jettner said: “With half of the project’s waste supply already committed, we are securing the remaining volume required through numerous council tender processes currently underway in metro Melbourne and regional Victoria.
“We expect to move to financial close for the project in the second half of 2022, so that construction can begin.”
Subscribe to our free @AuManufacturing newsletter here.