The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has granted $1.5 million in funding to support a feasibility study into the development of a 40-megawatt hydrogen hub at the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales.
The $3-million study will be led by the Port of Newcastle and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and supported by project partners Idemitsu, Keolis Downer, Lake Macquarie, Snowy Hydro, Jemena, and project collaborators Macquarie Agriculture and the University of Newcastle.
It will determine a broad and comprehensive range of potential use cases for green hydrogen, including customer-led studies into mobility, bunkering, energy production, and industrial applications such as renewable ammonia at scale for domestic fertiliser use.
While stage one of the project is underpinned by a 40-megawatt electrolyser, the study will also consider the future staged scale-up of an electrolyser to around 1 gigawatt, with the ability to produce up to 150,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year for domestic and export use.
ARENA chief executive officer Darren Miller said if the study proved the project to be feasible, it could enable Newcastle to become a major player in producing clean hydrogen.
Miller said: “We’re excited to be a part of this feasibility study which presents an opportunity to accelerate the diversification of Port of Newcastle which is crucial as Australia starts its journey to net zero by 2050.
“Newcastle is an ideal location for this project due to existing infrastructure and skilled workforce, both of which will be so important as we scale up.
“With the backing of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, Newcastle could become a hub for the production and use of hydrogen for domestic and export opportunities for Australia.”
Newcastle’s port is the largest on Australia’s east coast and currently handles about 4,400 ship movements and more than 160 million tonnes of cargo annually while only utilising less than 50 per cent of its channel capacity.
The city is an ideal location for a hydrogen hub due to the existing industries, infrastructure, access to a deep-water port, and a highly skilled workforce – the port’s existing export routes to Japan and South Korea also represent potential renewable hydrogen export markets in the future.
The hydrogen project aligns with ARENA’s recently launched 2021 investment plan, which details the strategic priority of commercialising clean hydrogen and aims to support a viable domestic and international clean hydrogen economy.
ARENA also recently approved $103 million in funding to support three 10-megawatt electrolyser projects through the Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round.
Since 2018, ARENA has also invested $60 million to support pre-commercial activities across 36 projects, including several feasibility studies focusing on smaller scale deployments and domestic end-use cases.