South Australia to Get World's Largest Solar and Wind Powered Hydrogen Facility

The government of South Australia recently approved plans to bring a new, massive hydrogen facility into reality.

South Australia is planning yet another expansive set of green technologies to create cleaner energy for the area. French company Neoen will build a new solar and wind hydrogen plant that's expected to be the largest in the world.

The state's government recently annoucned that it would provide an extensive loan to fund a 50MW hydrogen "electrolyser" to power the complex in the northern part of Adelaide, Australia. In total, the wind and solar facility is expected to total 300MW. The goal, according to government statements, is to offer up market competition to LNG as well as be able to export "renewable hydrogen" to Asian markets.

State energy minister Tom Koutsantonis said the current plans would build a facility five times bigger than any other project proposed at the moment. He also noted that it would produce upwards of 20,000 kg of hydrogen daily. 

"Our Hydrogen Roadmap has laid the groundwork for South Australia to become a world leader in the emerging hydrogen production industry, and to benefit from the economic opportunities likely to flow from it," he said.

"More renewable energy means cheaper power, and I'm pleased the State Government can partner with Neoen to once again develop a world-leading renewable energy and storage project following the construction of the Tesla battery at Jamestown," he continued. 

Once completed, this will be South Australia's third "world's largest" project that is associated with energy and energy production/storage. Currently, the area holds the record for the world's biggest litium-ion battery storage installation and the world's biggest virtual power plant. Both of those projects are courtesy of Tesla and Elon Musk's partnership with the area. 

 

"The Superhub will enable Neoen to produce renewable hydrogen for overseas export markets, and create 300 construction and ongoing jobs for South Australia," Koutsantonis said. Currently, the state of South Australia gets over 50 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power. However, those prices are expected to rise several cents over the next decade, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator

Franck Woitiez serves as the managing director of Neoen's Australian operations. Woitiez said in an interview with ABC Australia that the project gives South Australia enough energy to provide it to other Australian states as well.  

"It has the potential to reach beyond our electricity grids, and supply South Australia's locally produced clean energy to other states and to our nearby trading partners," he said.

In a separate interview, Woitiez said the project takes South Australia into an international leader in hydrogen-based energies, particularly as the energy form slowly grows in popularity on a global scale. 

“It’s a very interesting opportunity for South Australia to use the renewable energy that it produces in the state. It’s very exciting,” Woitiez told RenewEconomy. He sees opportunities for hydrogen both in exports and in domestic transport.

Currently, the project is set to undergo a feasibility study in order to further determine the size and scope of the facility as well as the best battery storage strategy. The study should be done and major decisions made by the end of 2018, according to Woitiez.