WA Government in $70b investment for hydrogen-related renewable energy projects
The WA Government has announced plans to earmark land for seven renewable energy projects, collectively valued at $70 billion.
The projects, which are mainly hydrogen-related, will see companies such as BP, South Korean steelmaker POSCO, and Fortescue Mining Group take advantage of the allocations.
The land is located at two heavy industrial derivatives near 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.
BP plans to progressively develop 26 gigawatts of wind and solar energy at a remote 6500-hectare site 250km from Port Hedland. This land will support the $53 billion Australian Renewable Energy Hub in which BP bought a 40.5 per cent stake in June 2022.
The electricity generated will 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 operations, which the big three players Rio Tinto, BHP, and Fortescue want to decarbonise.
POSCO, which works closely with Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, plans to use hydrogen to make high-quality iron pellets, known as hot briquetted iron. When used in electric-powered steel furnaces, this removes 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 the company is 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.
This move by the Western Australian Government is a significant step towards achieving its goal of reducing carbon emissions and promoting the use of clean energy. The projects are expected to generate thousands of jobs and attract significant investments to the region. It is a clear indication of the growing importance of hydrogen as a clean energy source and the increasing focus on decarbonizing the mining sector.