A US$10.75bn ($15bn) green hydrogen project in the Northern Territory is one step closer to producing commercial quantities for domestic and international markets after receiving major project status by the Northern Territory Government yesterday.

Named ‘Desert Bloom Hydrogen’, the 10GW project in the NT Barkly region is the only truly green commercial-scale hydrogen plant in Australia, which is aiming to utilise atmospheric water capture technology, powered by off-grid solar to produce around 410,000 metric tonnes of green hydrogen per year.

Aqua Aerem, the tech company behind the project, has been developing the technology for the last two years and has been running a pilot plant at the site in Tennant Creek for nine months.


Full-scale operations by 2028

In an interview with Stockhead, co-founder Gerard Reiter said while the tech is at its initial stages, results “exceeded expectations”.

“The project has been transformative in the way that it has managed to overcome water supply and solar/electrolysis integration problems that have so far held back global renewable hydrogen production.

“Stage one works will begin in 2022, which will comprise 204 hydrogen power units before reaching full scale operations around 2028 – this will include about 4,000 hydrogen production units producing 410,000 tonnes of green hydrogen at less than US$2/kg.”

The 2MW hydrogen production units (HPU) generate heat, water, electricity, and hydrogen without impacting water resources or causing environmental degradation.

The technology works by capturing water from the atmosphere in arid environments.

NT green hydrogen
The Hydrogen Production Unit and surrounding solar panels. Pic: Supplied


Green hydrogen for power in the NT by 2023

Within two years Reiter said the project will be supplying green hydrogen for power generation in the NT and within five years green hydrogen will be ready for export.

“Our air-to-water technology will open the door for green hydrogen projects to be located where the best renewable power sources are available, which is generally in the driest areas of the planet.”

As well as being located at the ‘energy corridor’ of rail, road, and gas pipeline infrastructure linking directly to the Darwin Port, Reiter said the project has multiple competitive advantages including offering the most cost-effective route to Asian export markets.

“It will assist in positioning Australia as a major player in the rapidly evolving global hydrogen market,” he added.

Barry Hart AO, professor of the Water Studies Centre at Monash University has been appointed project adviser on water and climate issues.

Singapore investment company injects US$1bn

Desert Bloom is financially backed by Sanguine Impact Investment, a Singapore-based investment company focused on sustainable infrastructure and energy transition projects.

Sanguine is also a majority shareholder of Aqua Aerem.

Reiter said Sanguine has invested an initial US$1 billion to the project and has agreed to fund, or source future project funding from investors in Europe, North America, and Asia.

An agreement with one of Japan’s largest gas buyers has also been executed on top of an agreement with Territory Generation – the Northern Territory’s power utility, to offtake hydrogen from the initial stages of the project.