SA acts to build Australian first green hydrogen power plant

The South Australia government has called for proposals to build an Australian-first 200MW green hydrogen power plant, as well as hydrogen storage capabilities at the steel city of Whyalla.

State energy minister Tom Koutsantonis today issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the supply, construction and operation of the hydrogen plant and equipment, as well as opening the way for a power station to utilise green hydrogen produced at the plant.

The government has earmarked $593 million to build a 250MW hydrogen electrolyser at Whyalla, along with a the hydrogen power plant.

The investment underpins $18 billion worth of hydrogen processing investments planned for Whyalla by Fortescue Future Industries, Origin Energy, H2U, Neoen, Chiyoda, ENEOS Australia, Mitsubishi Australia, and AMP Energy, as well as Greensteel production planned by the GFG Alliance.

Earlier this week property developer Thrive Construct and joint venture partner Japanese urban design group Nikken Sekkei announced their intention to invest $2 billion to build 2,500 mid-rise apartments capable of housing 5,000 to 6,000 people in Whyalla.

Koutsantonis said: “As the world looks to decarbonise, South Australia is making a once-in-a-generation investment in green hydrogen – an investment that places the Upper Spencer Gulf region at the epicentre of a renewable energy revolution.

“Local power, local jobs, global exports, global leadership – we will seize this opportunity to transform not just the energy sector but potentially the state’s economic future.

“Our state is globally recognised as a leader in renewable energy generation, and our coincident wind and solar is our prime advantage, making us perfectly positioned to become a word leader in green hydrogen production, storage and export.”

South Australia’s bold move builds on its leading edge credentials formed with its world-first $100 million bet to build the first Tesla big battery at Hornsdale, sparking a worldwide rush to battery energy storage.

The state is clearly the leader in renewables with 69 per cent of energy generation in 2022 coming from wind and solar PV.

It is making the bet that it can achieve the same leadership with renewable hydrogen.

Importantly, the announcement shows the state’s determination to reinvigorate Whyalla and the nearby deep-water port of Port Bonython as a centre of green hydrogen production and export, as well as a site for value-added production of green products such as ammonia and fertiliser.

In this it is up against competition from the Pilbara and Queensland which are closer to likely export markets in Asia.

However Whyalla already has substantial industrial infrastructure, potential hydrogen users in the Whyalla steel plant and Port Bonython petrochemical complex and, now, a hydrogen power station. The government is also spending $32.7 million to extend the export jetty at Port Bonython.

Hydrogen Power South Australia will operate the power plant and the electrolyser.

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Picture: Tom Koutsantonis

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