Australia to build $34 million hydrogen plant

Australia plans to build a A$51 million ($34 million) renewable hydrogen plant in Victoria state, Energy Minister Chris Bowen said.

The move is part of a much wider commitment to investing in renewable energy as the country embarks on an ambitious energy transition programme.

Last year, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s incoming Labor government unveiled a A$2 billion ‘Hydrogen Headstart’ programme, with the aim of accelerating the production and export of hydrogen fuel.

Bowen in a statement said the 10 megawatts electrolyser to be built in Wodonga in Victoria would be bigger than any current such unit in Australia, and be used to blend green hydrogen into gas networks to supply around 40,000 homes.

He added that construction of the new electrolyser – which produces low-emission hydrogen from renewable power – would start this year, with the site set to go live in 2025.

Funding for the project was coming from the Victoria government, the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Bowen said. It will be powered by energy from a wind farm, he said.

ARENA said in a statement the funding would go to energy infrastructure company Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, which would deliver the project.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the amount of renewable hydrogen set to be produced was unprecedented in Australia.

“It’s essential to scaling up Australia’s renewable hydrogen industry that we get these first-generation projects up and running,” Miller said in a statement.

The move follows the announcement last week from one of New South Wales’ major energy operators is to embark on an $11 billion investment plan over the next decade to ready itself for the country’s transition to a renewables-led energy future

The aspiration comes as part of a A$16.5 billion ($11.2 billion) infrastructure investment plan announced by major grid operator Transgrid.

The bulk of the funds, A$14 billion, will be spent on transmission lines to connect new clean energy projects to customers. Roughly A$2.2 billion will be spent on energy storage to secure the grid as coal plants close, including 10GW of batteries. A final A$300 million will be spent on new staff and technology to operate the upgraded grid.

The project will be funded by a combination of private investment, government support and user charges, a spokesperson for Transgrid said.