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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has conditionally approved A$47.5-million in funding for the A$87-million Yuri renewable hydrogen and ammonia project, near Karratha, as developer ENGIE takes a final investment decision.

The project includes a 10 MW electrolyser to produce renewable hydrogen, 18 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) system to power the electrolyser and 8 MW /5 MWh lithium-ion battery for firming, and will supply hydrogen and electricity to Yara Pilbara Fertilisers at its neighbouring liquid ammonia facility.

Once completed, the project will be Australia’s largest electrolyser, capable of producing up to 640 t/y of renewable hydrogen.

Permitting is completed, a 100% offtake contract is in place with Yara and construction is set to commence by November 2022, thanks to a consortium made of Technip Energies and Monford Group, selected as engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project.

“I am delighted to see the Yuri project moving forward very concretely as it fully illustrates one of the pillars of ENGIE’s hydrogen roadmap: industrial decarbonisation. Thanks to Australian authorities, we pave the way for hydrogen market development worldwide,” said ENGIE executive VP in charge of thermal generation, hydrogen and energy supply activities, Sébastien Arbola.

The federal government, through ARENA, is supporting the development with a A$47.5-million grant through the Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round, with the project also receiving $2-million in funding from the Renewable Hydrogen Fund as part of the Western Australian government’s Renewable Hydrogen Strategy. The project is expected to reach financial close by the end of September, and will commence construction in October and be completed by early 2024.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said building the first hydrogen projects at scale is an important step in Australia’s journey to become a major exporter of renewable hydrogen.

“The Yuri project is Australia’s first really substantial renewable hydrogen project, and it is one of the largest so far in the world,” Miller said.

“Whether it’s for decarbonising fertiliser production, or for use as a zero emissions fuel, renewable hydrogen will be vital to reducing emissions in so called hard-to-abate sectors. It is also a huge export opportunity for Australia to provide clean energy and emissions free materials to the rest of the world. This is going to be important if we are to achieve zero net emissions in the decades ahead.

“The Yuri project is exciting because fertiliser production is a significant existing end use for hydrogen and one where we can make an immediate difference because we are replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy to make hydrogen.”

“As the largest hydrogen project of its kind so far in Australia and one of the largest in the world, this project will help us understand the opportunities and challenges for producing renewable hydrogen at scale, offering valuable insights into the technical complexities, economics and supply chain considerations for future commercial scale hydrogen electrolyser projects in Australia.”

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said hydrogen is a crucial part of Australia’s energy future.

“The government is committed to boosting the level of renewables and is thrilled to announce further progress on this electrolyser, which will be among the largest in the country. This will help advance Australia towards becoming a world leader in hydrogen generation.

“As we move to a more renewable economy, hydrogen will become an increasingly important part of our energy mix, and will be important in supporting industrial and hard to abate sectors.”

Western Australian Hydrogen Industry Minister Alannah MacTiernan welcomed the final investment Decision from ENGIE and Yara Pilbara Fertilisers for the Yuri project.

“This is an important milestone for Western Australia’s growing renewable hydrogen industry. Yara Pilbara Fertilisers is a world scale facility, and the project will demonstrate Western Australia’s ability to produce renewable hydrogen on an industrial scale.

“The state government provided early critical support for this project with a A$2-million grant awarded two years ago. This support helped the project attract further funding.”