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Japan's ENEOS makes foray into solar power in Australia, eyes CO2-free hydrogen

Highlights

Queensland suitable on abundant solar radiation

Gaining expertise in renewables for CO2-free hydrogen supply chain

To boost renewable power generation capacity to over 1 GW

Japan's largest refiner ENEOS said June 10 that it will start up a 204 MW solar power plant in the Australian state of Queensland in the second half of fiscal year 2022-2023 (April-March), with an eye to establish its CO2-free hydrogen supply chain in Australia.

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In its first foray into the Australian solar power business, ENEOS said it, together with Japan's Sojitz, has acquired 100% shares of Edenvale Solar Park Pty, which will operate the power plant. This is part of its efforts targeting carbon neutrality by 2040.

Construction of the solar power plant, which will be built at about 300 km west of Brisbane, started in June and will be ENEOS' largest. Once completed, 70% of the power generated at the plant will be supplied to a local electricity retailer at a fixed price.

ENEOS said it intends to gain expertise in renewable energy development in Australia, where it strives to establish a supply chain for CO2-free hydrogen.

The 204 MW module capacity of the solar power plant will be evenly shared between ENEOS and Sojitz given their 50:50 stake in Edenvale Solar Park Pty.

The Queensland state government is targeting zero emissions by 2050, while the state's climate is suitable for solar power business due to the abundance of solar radiation.

Renewables, hydrogen push

ENEOS' foray into the Australian solar power business comes at a time when the company is aiming to boost its renewable power generation capacity to over 1 GW by the end of fiscal 2022-23.

With this solar power business, ENEOS' prospective renewable power generation capacity in Japan and abroad will increase to 253.6 MW, of which 125.2 MW has already started, an ENEOS spokesman said.

Under its three-year to March 2023 business plan, ENEOS Holdings, the parent company of its energy arm, has earmarked Yen 860 billion ($7.85 billion) for strategic investments, of which Yen 400 billion will be spent for next generation energy supply and businesses, including Yen 130 billion for renewables and hydrogen.

ENEOS is embarking on developing a CO2-free hydrogen supply chain, spanning from procurement of hydrogen abroad and transporting it in the form of methylcyclohexane, liquefied hydrogen and ammonia to Japan with an eye to using it in transport, household/office, power and industrial plants.

ENEOS said on March 25 that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Aramco to consider the development of a CO2-free hydrogen and ammonia supply chain as it accelerates efforts to develop hydrogen production, transport and sales businesses.

Hydrogen station

Separately, ENEOS said it has started up its 46th hydrogen station at Takatsu ward, Kawasaki city, Kanagawa prefecture in the outskirts of Tokyo June 10 as it accelerates efforts towards developing hydrogen production, transport and sales businesses. With this latest addition, ENEOS has a 31% market share in Japan's hydrogen stations.

The new Kawasaki Takatsu hydrogen station is one of ENEOS' seven hydrogen stations in Tokyo and adjacent prefectures that fill some 500 fuel cell vehicles to be used for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Game, the company said.

As a gold partner for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Game, ENEOS will supply oil products, gas, hydrogen and electricity for games-related vehicles and facilities.