South Australia announces plans to build hydrogen plant

A 15MW hydrogen electrolyser power plant is set to be constructed near Port Lincoln.

Hydrogen infrastructure company Hydrogen Utility (H2U), with German-based electrolysis and ammonia specialist thyssenkrupp, will deliver the $117.5 million project, with the assistance of a $4.7 million grant and $7.5 million loan from the South Australian Government’s Renewable Technology Fund.

The proposed facility will integrate a portfolio of innovative hydrogen technologies, including a 15MW electrolyser plant, a distributed ammonia production facility, and a 10MW hydrogen­fired gas turbine and 5MW hydrogen fuel cell, which will both supply power to the grid.

H2U CEO Dr Attilio Pigneri said the facility will be an exemplar of the synergies associated with hydrogen.

“It will provide balancing services to the national transmission grid, fast frequency response support to new solar plants under development in the Eyre Peninsula, supply green ammonia and other chemicals to the local farming and aquaculture sectors, and host the demonstration, at scale, of novel supply chain technologies for the export of green hydrogen from Australia to markets in the Asia­Pacific region,” Dr Pigneri said.

“The project will provide the perfect training ground for a new wave of green hydrogen professionals.

“We are very lucky to be able to work with local academic institutions, such as the University of Adelaide, and the local energy market regulator, towards the establishment of training programs for certified operators, technicians and professionals that can support the growth of the industry in Australia, including new ‘pathways to employment’ programs for disadvantaged sectors of the local community.”

The electrolyser plant will be one of the largest green hydrogen production facilities worldwide, and among the first ever commercial facilities to produce distributed ammonia from intermittent renewable resources that can be used as an industrial fertiliser.

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said hydrogen offered an opportunity to create a new industry in the state.

“More renewable energy means cheaper power and the ability to store renewables means the benefits of that cheap power can be experienced around the clock,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“South Australia is at the global forefront of a broad range of storage technology, from big batteries, to virtual power plants to pumped hydro – now we will also be home to one of the largest hydrogen production facilities in the world as well.

“H2U and thyssenkrupp are at the cutting edge of the development of hydrogen production and fuel cell technology, and the fact that they have chosen South Australia for the development of this project speaks volumes for our state.”

Hydrogen can be produced from renewable sources such as wind or solar through a process called electrolysis.

Surplus electricity from renewable generators is used in an electrolyser to split clean water into hydrogen and oxygen.

That hydrogen can then be used to power fuel cell vehicles, make ammonia, generate electricity in a turbine or fuel cell, supply industry, or to export around the world.

About 30 construction and 30 ongoing jobs will be created through the project.