Global firm announces major SA hydrogen project

An international developer will build two major green hydrogen projects in South Australia and the Northern Territory, as the state government signs a renewables agreement with the Commonwealth.

Jul 10, 2024, updated Jul 10, 2024
CIC will develop two major hydrogen generation plants in SA and the NT.

CIC will develop two major hydrogen generation plants in SA and the NT.

Climate Impact Corporation (CIC) today announced its intention to develop two 10GW green hydrogen projects in central Australia, utilising modular technology that draws on water in the air to produce hydrogen energy.

Each project will be 50 times larger than the state government’s proposed Whyalla hydrogen power plant, and utilise a different type of technology that CIC said uses less water and is not reliant on grid power.

CIC – a multinational climate tech firm – said each project would be the largest of their kind developed in Australia to date.

Developed in partnership with GE Verona, the hydrogen production module contains atmospheric water generators, solar panels, electrolysers and additional infrastructure.

CIC said the technology can produce renewable hydrogen in solar-rich locations and does not rely on ground water, desalination or grid electricity.

CIC co-founder and chairman David Green said the approach would unlock inland hydrogen production in solar-rich locations such as the Northern Territory and South Australia. The company hopes to be producing hydrogen at test modules as soon as the end of the year.

“Renewable hydrogen production requires a significant amount of energy and water, which aren’t often found together in places like Australia,” Green said.

“Rather than repeating the same approach, we’re looking to solve this challenge by creating modules that use Australia’s abundant solar resources, combined with proven atmospheric water generation technology.

“It’s an approach that solves one of the biggest challenges Australia has faced in becoming a renewable hydrogen superpower, and we’re excited to be bringing it to market first in Australia.”

A render of CIC’s proposed modular hydrogen generators. Photo: Supplied.

Green said CIC had secured enough offtake buyers for Australian-produced renewable hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives to support the development of large-scale projects in Australia.

“The demand for dependable, sustainable, and affordable renewable fuels in the Asia-Pacific is growing, and Australia is perfectly placed to become a regional hydrogen superpower to meet that need,” he said.

“But that means we need to invest in technology that maximises Australia’s advantages, and come up with creative solutions to challenges like water scarcity without a huge financial burden being placed on governments and communities.

“Modular, off-grid hydrogen is based on proven technology and has enormous potential to meet Australia and the region’s renewable fuel needs.”

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Green added that CIC required political will to support new technologies like its modular hydrogen projects.

“We need Australian governments to lean in if we want Australia to lead in this technology instead of being of it being used in other countries first,” he said.

“We’re speaking to leaders in Adelaide and Darwin about renewable hydrogen projects in their states and territories, as well as component manufacturing, that will provide ongoing jobs for hundreds of people while producing zero-carbon fuels.

“Government support on permitting, streamlining approvals process, and ensuring suitable sites are available would accelerate this investment significantly.”

Commonwealth renewables agreement penned

Green’s comments come as the South Australian government today signed a final Renewable Energy Transformation Agreement with the federal government.

SA is the first state to sign such an agreement, under which the Albanese Government will underwrite developers to build a minimum 1000MW of new wind and solar projects in the state.

The federal government will also underwrite 400MW of new storage capacity to ensure renewable power is available for homes and businesses 24/7.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said renewable energy would put downward pressure on energy bills.

“The more renewable energy we have in our grid, the more downward pressure it puts on energy bills because it is the cheapest form of energy to power households and industry,” Bowen said.

“Giving the market the confidence to build new projects is good; signing an agreement to collaborate with South Australia on practical steps to get the best out of this energy transformation for South Australian workers, communities and industry, is great.”

State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis welcomed the agreement.

“South Australia has been a renewable energy pioneer – so much so that we recently brought forward our renewable energy target by three years, committing to ensure electricity generation can be sourced from net 100 per cent renewables by 2027,” Koutsantonis said.

“So we warmly welcome this agreement to accelerate the roll out of renewables while ensuring the reliability of the energy system.

“Our government is committed to working with the Commonwealth to establish a secured grid, supporting the power needs of South Australian households and businesses.”

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