Green is the new gold for minerals exploration firm Province Resources which unveiled its vision to create Australia’s first green hydrogen project in February. It’s still early days but since announcing the plans, interest in the project, which could produce 60,000 tonnes of green hydrogen in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, has skyrocketed.
Dubbed the HyEnergy Zero Carbon HydrogenTM Project, it was revealed by Province Resources as part of an acquisition and proposes to generate 1GW of renewable energy to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia. The company says the project’s close proximity to key infrastructure means it’s capable of supplying domestic and international markets.
“It’s likely to be a much bigger project than first thought,” David Frances, Managing Director of Province Resources, enthused to H2 View.
“The independent power providers that we’ve talked to so far are talking much, much bigger than a 1GW power station. I’m not exactly sure what numbers we will finally land on hydrogen wise, but it’s likely to be a much larger project than 66,000 tonnes.”
Province Resources wants to become the first significant Western Australian producer and exporter of 100% renewable hydrogen and ammonia, making Western Australia’s market share in global hydrogen exports comparable to its share in LNG today.
“What we mean by that is we would strive to match the economic benefit to the Australian economy of fossil fuels, but also help to displace some of that and help to decarbonise the economy in that way,” Frances explained.
“Hydrogen is notoriously difficult to transport in great volumes over great distances. So, the most likely scenario is potentially for this project to make some green hydrogen for the domestic market and probably some green ammonia, which is easier to transport – you can obviously transport it [ammonia] in a wheelbarrow if you have to.”
Frances continued, “With what we’re doing, we’re never going to be the world’s biggest supplier of green hydrogen or green ammonia, but what we will do is help to displace, or at least limit, some of the current production of ammonia which generates 2-3% of the world’s greenhouse gases alone. If we can produce some offsets to that by producing green ammonia from green hydrogen, then that’s a massive win for everybody.”
Seven things for a successful project
For a green hydrogen project to be successful, Frances believes you need seven things and says the HyEnergy Project has them all.
“First and second – renewables. In our case, it’s sun and wind, but they also have to be complementary. It’s not much good having wind that blows all day and not at night. You need wind that blows in the morning, afternoon and night, and sun shining in the daytime to be complementary, this reduces the need for large storage capacity.” he said. Frances also said the HyEnergy Project is located on the “sweet spot” along the coast: “It’s far enough north on the coast of Western Australia not to get the southern cold fronts and associated cloudy days, and it’s also in a very narrow band that’s just south enough not to get influenced by tropical storms and cyclones.”
“Then number three is water, which is obviously the main feedstock for green hydrogen. Our project is located right on the ocean, so there’s an infinitely renewable resource, right on the shore there.”
Fourth is low land use. “You might’ve seen the picture in the presentation? It looks like a desert because essentially it is one. It’s very, very low intensity land use; we’ve got very little competing land use,” Frances said.
Fifth is infrastructure and sixth is market, and Frances highlighted that the HyEnergy Project is right on the spur to the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline.
“The state government wants to see 10% hydrogen in that pipeline by 2030, so that would potentially be a domestic supply for us. The north, south Arterial highway also runs through the project, so when we’re building it, we’ll be able to get materials straight in,” Frances said.
“In terms of market, we’re close to Asia – Japan, Korea, probably the two biggest markets for green hydrogen emerging in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Seventh is regulatory environment, and Frances said he’s happy to see Australia “taking a leaf out of Europe’s book” and putting in place good policy changes and funding to allow a “good runway” to develop these kind of green hydrogen projects.
He said Province Resources looked at projects all over the place, but this was the only one that ticked all seven of the boxes.
At the beginning of March, Province Resources said it had bought a weather monitoring station which would be deployed on the site within the next month. The monitoring station is critical to the project as it will collect preliminary wind and solar data every 10 minutes within the area to assess the wind and solar resource potential.
“We are in discussions with independent power providers (IPP) to come and build a power station, and we’re hoping to sign an MoU with one of those guys in the near future. And then we can concentrate on the hydrogen side,” Frances told H2 View.
“We’ll probably look for a strong partner in that as well; that’s not to say that the IPP wouldn’t step across and become part of that as well. So, that’s our next steps. We would obviously then talk to the guys who own the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline to talk about domestic offtake of Hydrogen and also start to talk to other offtakers about either green ammonia or hydrogen as well.”
Frances added, “We have a lot of tailwinds at the moment helping us get the project up and running. The world wants it!”