Here is the world’s biggest green hydrogen project, again.

Green hydrogen proposals are getting bigger and bigger by the day, and this one is a whopper. Intercontinental Energy and CWP Renewables, the same partners looking to deliver the $50 billion Asian Renewable Energy Hub in the Pilbara, have today announced plans to put together the $100 billion Western Green Energy hub on the Nullarbor.

There’s not much development out that way, but the 15,000km2 slab of land west of Eucla on the WA-SA border sits in the traditional lands of the Mirning people, who would benefit from an ongoing and permanent equity stake in the project and board seat.

That land would be developed with 50GW of wind and solar generating power that would produce 3.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen or 20Mt of green ammonia a year.

To put that into perspective, Europe’s largest electrolyser in Germany – backed by oil and gas giant Shell – just started operating with a planned rate of 1300t of hydrogen per year.

While Goldman Sachs views green hydrogen as a potential US$10 trillion industry by 2050, it is a scale heretofore unheard of.

The project proponents have taken a more cautious approach on the growth of the market than Goldman, estimating green hydrogen will be worth US$2.5tn globally by the middle of the century.

The proposal comes just weeks after Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley put paid to the 26GW AREH project on concerns it would damage a Ramsar wetland and migratory bird hotspot of global significance at 80 Mile Beach.

There remain plenty of suspicions from the renewable industry that the decision to scotch the project – not long after its mode of energy delivery changed from a subsea cable to an underwater green ammonia pipeline – would not have been made had the proponent been an oil and gas major.

EPBC rulings that projects are clearly unacceptable are relatively rare. Work is ongoing on that one in the background.

The new WGEH project has been celebrated by WA Hydrogen Minister Alannah MacTiernan, who previously took aim at Ley’s decision to refuse to assess the AREH proposal.

“”We look forward to continuing to work with the consortium as they develop their detailed studies and move towards an investment decision,” she said.

“Right across WA we are seeing renewable hydrogen projects taking their next steps forward – from the Kimberley to Esperance.

“Our State is perfectly positioned to lead the global renewable hydrogen industry, delivering a strong economic future for WA and becoming a major contributor to global decarbonisation.”

The project would be built in stages, with a final investment decision to be made post-2028, so there appears plenty of water to pass under the bridge.

The proponents say the project has an ideal weather profile, with windy conditions at night and sunny confition during the day and measurements of ~9m/s wind speed and ~2,000 kWh/m2 solar irradiation.


Epuron plans new wind farm in north Queensland

Renewables developer Epuron has started the environmental approval process for a new wind farm at Chalumbin in north Queensland.

Located 10km south of Ravenshoe, the project would have a total capacity of up to 665MW.

According to documents lodged with the Federal Environment Department this week, Chalumbin would begin construction in late 2022 and generate about 2170GWh of renewable electricity a year from up to 95 wind turbines, equivalent to powering some 350,000 homes.

It will employ between 250-350 people during its 18-24 month construction phase and operate for around 30 years, employing 10-15 full-time roles.

The project, if it comes to fruition, will be one of a wave in the pipeline in Queensland, where the Palaszczuk Government aims to have 50% of its energy supplied by renewables by 2030, despite sensitivities around the state’s mainstay coal sector.

At its full proposed scale of 665MW would be about 50% larger than the 453MW Coopers Gap, currently the largest operating wind farm in Australia.

However, it would be much smaller than the country’s first GW scale windfarm, being developed by the Queensland Government and Spain’s Acciona near Warwick in the state’s south.