Australia supports renewable hydrogen plant



Australia’s largest renewable hydrogen project will continue in the Pilbara, with support from federal and state governments.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on Friday announced a $47.5 million grant for French energy company ENGIE’s green hydrogen and ammonia project near Karratha in Western Australia.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the project would help Australia become a global leader in hydrogen generation.

“As we move towards a more renewable economy, hydrogen will become an increasingly important part of our energy mix and important in supporting industrial and hard-to-reduce sectors,” he said.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the plant could make an immediate difference as fossil fuels were replaced with renewable energy to make hydrogen.

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“It is also a huge export opportunity for Australia to provide clean energy and zero-emission materials to the rest of the world,” he said.

The $87.1 million Yuri project includes a 10-megawatt electrolyser to produce renewable hydrogen, powered by solar and lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, and will be one of the world’s largest.

The largest electrolyser currently operating in Australia is the 1.25 MW hydrogen plant at Tonsley Park in Adelaide in South Australia.

The project will supply hydrogen and electricity to Yara Pilbara Fertilizers at the neighboring liquid ammonia plant and will produce up to 640 tons of renewable hydrogen per year.

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The project also received $2 million seed funding from the WA government two years ago, as the state appears to be a global hydrogen hub.

WA Hydrogen Industry Minister Alannah MacTiernan welcomed ENGIE and Yara Pilbara Fertilizers’ final investment decision for the Yuri project as an important milestone for WA’s renewable hydrogen industry.

“Yara Pilbara Fertilizers is a world-class facility and the project will demonstrate WA’s ability to produce renewable hydrogen on an industrial scale,” she said.

ENGIE has entered into a joint venture with Japan’s Mitsui, which has agreed to acquire a 28 percent stake, to develop and operate the Yuri project.

Electrolysers use renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The renewable hydrogen produced can be used for electricity generation, transport fuel or as a raw material for ammonia.

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Ammonia is most commonly used for the production of agricultural fertilizer, which is currently made with hydrogen from fossil fuels.

Ammonia production is a very energy-intensive process, producing about 500 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is about 1.8 percent of global CO2 emissions, comparable to the aviation industry.

Construction of the Yuri plant will begin next month and is expected to be completed in early 2024.

Two other applicants are also close to securing ARENA funding, the agency said.



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