Expected to be at full capacity by 2027, the 10GW project will see the production of hydrogen at less than $2.80 (US$2) per kilogram, with a 410,000 metric tonne output capacity per year for domestic and export use.
Technology company Aqua Aerem will lead the world-first project, which will commence in 2022, and is expected to be producing commercial quantities of the gas as early as 2023.
Based at Tenant Creek, this will be the only truly green commercial hydrogen plant in Australia, employing “Desert Bloom” technology, which utilises atmospheric water capture and off-grid solar power to produce commercial quantities of renewable hydrogen at no expense to the scarce local water resources or environment.
In a media release on Monday, Aqua-Aerem co-founder and chief executive officer Gerard Reiter called the project “transformative” in the way it has solved water supply and solar/electrolysis integration problems that have so far impeded renewable hydrogen production.
“With today’s announcement, the pathway for green hydrogen becomes a reality,” he said.
“Our air-to-water technology, which solves this previously intractable water supply problem, is a world first; invented and developed here in Australia. This technology will open the door for green hydrogen projects to be located where the best renewable power sources are available, which is generally in the driest areas of the planet.”
The Tenant Creek plant will utilise nearby existing gas and pipeline infrastructure that can be repurposed for hydrogen, and the project will be made up of modular and portable 2MW Hydrogen Production Units (HPUs)- about 4,000 at its peak- which generate water, heat, electricity, and hydrogen.
Reiter highlighted the multiple competitive advantages of the project.
“It uses proven technology and has its own water supply. It benefits from the world’s best solar resources, does not require large sunk costs before it begins producing, and it is located at the ‘energy corridor’ of rail, road and gas pipeline infrastructure linking directly to Darwin Port,” he said.
“It also offers the most direct, cost-effective route to Asian export markets.”
Reiter added that the project will position Australia as a serious contender in the global hydrogen market, and give the Territory an economic boost, creating potentially a thousand jobs in construction and over a hundred full-time jobs in operation and maintenance of the project.
“It will also promote skills development and education pathways and be a catalyst for new advanced manufacturing and regional development,” he said.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner agreed that Desert Bloom hydrogen will be a major boost for the Territory.
“Territorians will see the benefits on the ground in Central Australia and in the Top End with around 1000 jobs and $1 billion a year in export revenue from this project alone – it’s good news for the Territory.”
Aqua Aerem is majority owned by Sanguine Impact Investment, which will be providing funding for the project.