AGL Energy and Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries have significantly upgraded their hopes for a massive green hydrogen facility in the heart of the Hunter Valley, and are now looking at a 2GW renewable hydrogen facility.
The two companies last December revealed their plans to turn AGL’s coal plant precinct in the Hunter Valley – which houses the soon to be close Liddell generator and the neighbouring Bayswater facility, into a green hydrogen precinct with solar, wind, storage and manufacturing.
In an update released on Tuesday, the two companies say the feasibility study has been expanded to consider a project from 150MW up to 2GW, and new partners had been brought on board, including Japanese groups Inpex and Osaka Gas.
Australian gas and energy infrastructure companies APA Group and Jemena have also been brought on board.
Fortescue insists, however, that the focus remains on green hydrogen, and it will be the exclusive producer of green hydrogen at the site.
“The scale of green hydrogen production potential in the Hunter region is world leading and we’re keen to accelerate the delivery of this potential,” FFI’s director for east Australia and NZ Felicity Underhill said in a statement.
FFI is building what will be the biggest electrolyser manufacturing facility in Gladstone, in a venture with US-based Plug Power, that will have annual production of around 2GW. Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines said last month FFI was likely to be the biggest customer of that electrolyser capacity.
The feasibility study is being carried out by GHD Advisory and is expected to be complete before the end of the year. The project will look to take advantage of the massive energy infrastructure in place for the last 50 years to support the now ageing coal generators.
AGL chief operating officer Markus Brokhof has previously spoken of the company’s plans to turn its fossil fuel generator assets into low carbon energy hubs, playing host to renewables, storage, hydrogen and green industries.
“Our Hunter Energy Hub will be the first of its kind in Australia and will be an example of how an energy hub can combine grid-scale batteries, solar thermal storage, wind and pumped hydro. It will be an industry-leading model for our other large generation sites and others across the country.”
“Early estimates suggest the site can support a hydrogen facility of up to 2GW in scale, but we will also test critical inputs including renewable energy costs, firming requirements, electrolyser capital costs, logistics and utilisation.
“The feasibility scope will focus on assessing the accelerated implementation of a large-scale production facility from minimum 150MW and up to 2GW of hydrogen and preferred derivatives including ammonia for export and domestic use.”
The two companies said APA’s role would be to focus on opportunities for renewable generation to underpin hydrogen production, as well as the potential for a transmission pipeline, while Jemena is keen on injecting hydrogen into its existing gas infrastructure.
The Japanese groups Inpex and Osaka are looking at cost-competitive green hydrogen and green hydrogen derivative opportunities, presumably for domestic consumption.