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InterContinental Energy announces 50 GW Western Australia green hydrogen hub


Project to produce 3.5 million mt/year green hydrogen

Partners in project are CWP, Mirning Green Energy

InterContinental Energy plans to build a 50 GW Western Australia renewable energy hub dedicated to green hydrogen production by 2030, the company told S&P Global Platts July 12.

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According to Brendan Hammond, chairman of the board of the Western Green Energy Hub (WGEH) and a senior executive in InterContinental, the huge project should be seen in the context of an estimated global renewable hydrogen market of $2.5 trillion by 2050.

Detailed resource evaluation is taking place under license across the project's proposed 15,000 square km site in southeast Western Australia.

The plan is to build capacity in stages so that by 2030 the project's electrolyzers will be producing some 3.5 million mt/year of renewable hydrogen, which would be converted to 20 million mt of renewable ammonia, all for export.

"At full scale, with the entire land area up and running, we believe it will be approximately 50 GW and that will comprise 30 GW wind and 20 GW solar," Hammond said, speaking in an interview.

WGEH's current license allowed it to do the investigation work needed for environmental permitting with the state environmental protection authority, he added.

It will be 18-24 months, however, before the project reaches the stage of formal environmental approval by the state and federal governments, Hammond said.

Other consortium partners in WGEH are CWP Global and, for the first time for such a project, site landowner Mirning Green Energy Ltd.

The "remarkably remote" site consists of flat desert or semi-desert, ideal for wind and solar development, with electrolyzers to use seawater, Hammond said.

"We will need [our own dedicated] offshore vessel loading facilities, very much as you would have seen in the LNG industry," Hammond said.

Moving on from AREH

The latest announcement comes in the wake of the Australian government's rejection of InterContinental Energy's 26 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) in Pilbara, Western Australia, another renewable hydrogen and ammonia project, this time in partnership with CWP Global, Pathway Investments (Macquarie) and Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas.

On June 22, AREH said the federal environment minister had decided an environmental referral would not proceed in its current form.

"These very large complex projects, like pretty much anywhere in the world, are bound to strike some form of hurdle in their development," Hammond said.

The developer will work with state and federal stakeholders to resolve those hurdles "as they occur in a way that satisfies the requirements of the statutes and the administration, and at the same continues to deliver the project as we would like," Hammond said.

"I am supremely confident that we will work together with the various government and other agencies to ensure that it gets delivered on time," Hammond said.

Hammond said WGEH would likely be double the forecast A$50 billion ($37 billion) cost of AREH. The project is to be financed directly by consortium partners, which would seek to bring in further partners as it progresses.