BP has found WA’s mid-west would be ideal for large-scale green hydrogen or ammonia production, while Origin and Mitsui OSK will cooperate to examine shipping options for the fuel.
BP has found that Western Australia’s mid-west is “ideally positioned” for the large-scale production of green hydrogen and green ammonia, but that development will require huge investment in ports, energy and water networks.
The results from a $4.42 million feasibility study by the British energy major came as Origin Energy announced a collaboration with shipping giant Mitsui OSK Lines to develop a supply chain for the export of green ammonia, including from a proposed plant in Tasmania’s Bell Bay.
The companies are among many seizing on opportunities to develop renewable energy-based hydrogen and ammonia projects in Australia, with the aim of targeting clean energy exports to Asia. However research firm BloombergNEF advised last week that wide-scale demand for clean hydrogen is still several years away.
BP Australia president Frederic Baudry said the feasibility study, announced in May last year, said the prospects for scaled-up green hydrogen look “particularly promising” in WA’s mid-west, which has existing infrastructure, access to land and abundant wind and solar resources.
“Importantly, our study also confirmed strong demand from potential customers in the hard-to-abate sectors, and for both local and export markets,” Mr Baudry said.
“This has the potential to position Australia as a regional powerhouse of the energy transition.
The study, carried out by GHD Advisory and BP’s renewables venture Lightsource bp with $1.7 million of funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, examined both the potential for a pilot-scale plant of 4000 tonnes a year of hydrogen to make 20,000 tonnes a year of ammonia, and a much larger commercial scale plant of 200,000 tonnes of hydrogen to make up to 1 million tonnes of ammonia.
It considered three hydrogen production technologies, using a mix of power sources comprising solar and wind, with some battery support.
The study examined potential economic returns but found that to be properly understood, the markets for renewable hydrogen and ammonia needed to be further advanced. Significant scale will be required for general hydrogen fuel use to be commercially viable, it said.
BP said it would work with key stakeholders to develop plans for green hydrogen projects in WA and to define infrastructure needs, customer demand and appropriate business models, but its statement did not refer to any specific plan to move forward with a project. It is examining several hydrogen projects around the world and last week sealed agreements with new potential customers for a proposed “blue” hydrogen project in Teesside, north-east England.
Origin and Mitsui OSK, meanwhile, will investigate the potential to transport green ammonia to key downstream markets starting in 2026 in a feasibility study to be completed by December.
Origin, which already exports LNG, is studying the potential for green hydrogen and ammonia opportunities at plants that include Bell Bay and in the Queensland port of Townsville.
Green hydrogen involves using renewable energy – typically wind, solar or hydroelectricity – to power an electrolyser that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be converted into green ammonia, which is easier to transport and can be used to generate power or in industrial processes.
Origin’s general manager of future fuels, Tracey Boyes, singled out transport as one of the biggest opportunities globally to reduce emissions through the use of green fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia.
“Many nations have committed to ambitious carbon targets, and partners such as Mitsui OSK Lines will be crucial to underpinning the development of a strong hydrogen sector here in Australia,” she said.
BNEF said it expects Australia to account for most of an estimated 100-200 megawatts of electrolyser projects it envisages will come online in Asia-Pacific outside the huge growth market of China by 2030.
Extracted from AFR