e development of a hydrogen hub north of Geraldton is being fast tracked by the West Australian government after receiving significant interest from major global producers.

WA Hydrogen Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the government would tip $5.5 million into feasibility and planning works for the Oakajee Strategic Industrial Area (SIA).

This included spending $500,000 on a joint study with the Netherlands’ Port of Rotterdam — which is working to become Europe’s hydrogen hub — into exporting hydrogen products.

Ms MacTiernan said the 6,000-hectare Oakajaee site had potential to create world class renewable hydrogen exports.

She said identifying six companies to develop the renewable hydrogen industrial precinct was a significant step forward.

“Now that we know what the projects are that are to be delivered there, we can do more detailed planning around the energy and water demands and other planning infrastructure,” Ms MacTiernan said.

A chart showing two different ways of producing hydrogen.
Unlike blue hydrogen, the creation of green hydrogen does not create harmful CO2.(Supplied: Woodside)

Land at Oakajee is set to be allocated to six proponents, including BP, Fortescue Future Industries, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, Green LOHC, Kinara Power and Blue Diamond Australia.

“What we see is companies eager to get started,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“I don’t think land banking is going to be a problem, but as always with our strategic industrial sites, we’ll make sure the public interest is protected.

“We have got to keep our eyes on the fact that we want to be part of this new industry.”

She said there were countries “all around the world vying for this”.

More ‘realistic’ than iron ore port

Ms MacTiernan said a hydrogen hub at Oakajee was much more “realistic” than previous plans for a deepwater iron ore port at the site.

“The hydrogen hub at Oakajee is not so much about the generation of the power, but the conversion of the power into a usable product, whether its creating ammonia for shipping, or creating ammonium nitrate for the explosives industry,” she said.

“It’s about getting hydrogen, whether its produced at Arrowsmith or Murchison or any other site, and bringing it into this processing project.”

Ms MacTiernan said she wanted to see roads into Oakajee under construction next year, and said by 2024 “we could see some of these projects emerging out of the ground”.

BP eyeing export potential

Oil giant BP aimed to become a net zero company by 2050.

Earlier this year it purchased a 40 per cent share in the Pilbara-based Australian Renewable Energy Hub, which aimed to produce 1.6 million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum.

BP’s head of integrated solutions Justin Nash said it would look to produce renewable hydrogen and convert it to a carrier such as ammonia.

He said BP conducted a study on the Geraldton region two years ago and looked at WA export opportunities for green hydrogen.

“Through that study we proved that the area really does have world class renewable resources, which are a foundation for renewable hydrogen,” Mr Nash said.

“We also tested international markets. That also confirmed an appetite from some Asian customers for this product in the future.

“For domestic customers, if they want green power, we’ll be able to deliver that, and also hydrogen for domestic uses as well.”

Mr Nash said BP wanted to produce one gigawatt by 2030, which would require three gigawatts of solar and wind.

Copenhagen company digs in

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners is a fund management company specialising in energy infrastructure assets, particularly renewables.

It said it managed 10 funds and had raised about 18 billion euros ($28.1 billion) for investments in energy and associated infrastructure.

In November 2020 it partnered with Hydrogen Renewables Australia on the Murchison Renewable Hydrogen Project near Kalbarri, just north of Oakajee.

Extracted in full from: WA government accelerates green hydrogen plans near Geraldton as global players dig in – ABC News