Plans for a green hydrogen hub in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt have been halted after planning authorities rejected the proponent’s proposal.

Touted by developers Infinite Green Energy (IGE) as the first facility in the country to commercially produce green hydrogen, the project was due to be built within the Shire of Northam with works to be completed by early next year.

But this deadline will no longer be met after the Regional Development Assessment Panel rejected the developer’s application due to the facility not being consistent with land use definitions in the area.

In its decision, the panel concluded the project’s on-site renewable energy source did not produce enough power to meet the Shire of Northam Local Planning Scheme’s definition of a “renewable energy facility”.

Information cited by shire officers indicated that on-site renewable energy sources varied between 14 and 46 per cent, which is below the 50 per cent requirement for land use compliance.

The rejection of the Infinite Green Energy project means the company’s plan to see buses, concrete mixers, rubbish trucks, and road trains powered by green hydrogen around the state will take longer than first estimated.

The project was backed by $5 million in state government grant funding.

Speaking to the ABC last year, Infinite Green Energy chief executive and founder Stephen Gauld said the completed facility would produce 4 tonnes of hydrogen per day, enough renewable energy to power 78 Class 8 heavy haul trucks.

It was expected that the facility would create 200 ongoing jobs within the Shire of Northam.

Although advertised as the first of its kind in the country, the Northam venture was designed as a demonstration facility ahead of IGE’s much larger project, the planned Arrowsmith Hydrogen Plant in Dongara.

That facility is expected to produce enough power to run at least 700 road trains per day when it comes online, which is scheduled for 2028.

Several other large green hydrogen projects are planned for WA, including the Oakagee hub outside Geraldton, which will be focused on exports, and the Pilbara Hydrogen Hub, which will produce hydrogen and ammonia near Karratha.

With the decision finalised, Infinite Green Energy has 28 days to lodge an appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal.

Extracted in full from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-03-26/infinite-green-energy-decision-planning-rejection/103634930

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