Tuesday 31st January 2023 Font size:

WA allocates $70 billion in green hydrogen push

Monday, January 9th, 2023

The Western Australian Government has earmarked land for seven renewable energy projects collectively valued at $70 billion.

The projects are mainly hydrogen-related, with companies such as BP, South Korean steelmaker POSCO, and Fortescue Mining Group taking advantage of the allocations.

The land is located at two heavy industrial estates near the Pilbara coastal towns of Port Hedland and Onslow.

BP, POSCO, Fortescue, Alinta Energy and UK firm Tees Valley Lithium were allocated land at the 4000-hectare Boodarie strategic industrial area south of Port Hedland, where most of Australia’s iron ore exports are loaded.

BP plans to progressively develop 26 gigawatts of wind and solar energy at a remote 6500-hectare site 250km from Port Hedland, securing the land to support the $53 billion Australian Renewable Energy Hub it has operated since June 2022.

The electricity would be used to produce green hydrogen.

If BP transmits the green power to Port Hedland, it could connect to the transmission system and supply the region’s vast iron ore business that the big three players Rio Tinto, BP and Fortescue want to decarbonise.

POSCO works closely with Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and plans to use hydrogen to make high-quality pellets of iron called hot briquetted iron that, when used in electric-powered steel furnaces, removes highly polluting coal from the process.

An Alinta Energy spokesman said the company was considering producing green hydrogen at Boodarie, where it already has a gas-fired power station.

Tees Valley Lithium, which plans to spend $444 million to build Europe’s biggest lithium hydroxide plant in northern England, was also allocated land at Port Hedland.

Fortescue was allocated land at Port Hedland as well as near Onslow at the 8000-hectare Ashburton North strategic industrial area.

A Fortescue spokeswoman said it was considering producing and using green hydrogen at both sites. The iron ore miner has diversified into green hydrogen and is seeking environmental approval for a 5.4-gigawatt wind and solar farm at Uaroo cattle station south of Onslow that could supply power to the Ashburton North site.

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