Danish company discloses ideas for gigawatt-scale renewable hydrogen generation in Murchison

Murchison Hydrogen Renewables has revealed details of its proposed project near Kalbarri in Western Australia, which includes more than 5 gigawatts of wind and solar energy, a large battery, a 3 gigawatt electrolyzer, and the production of approximately 2 million tons of green ammonia per year.

The massive project, which was first proposed by Hydrogen Renewables Australia in 2019, is currently being driven by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. It will generate renewable hydrogen and ammonia for domestic and international markets.

Until this week, few specifics about the project had been published, other for its proposed location at Murchison House Station on Western Australia’s mid-west coast — an area designated by engineering firm AECOM as a prime location for wind and solar co-location in Australia.

However, a proposal to the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority on Monday revealed the scope and mix of technologies suggested, as well as the time and resources required to bring the ambitious project to fruition.

Murchison Hydrogen Renewables proposes to deploy approximately 1.5GW of solar PV and approximately 700 onshore wind turbines with an installed capacity of approximately 3.7GW as part of the renewable energy component.

For the green hydrogen and ammonia components, the project intends to build a Power-to-X (PtX) facility that will utilize solar and wind energy to produce around 2 megatons of green ammonia per year (2Mtpa).

This is projected to require a total capacity of approximately 3GW of electrolyzers and up to approximately 6 gigaliters of “demineralized water” per year, which would be treated on-site by a purpose-built water treatment and desalination facility utilizing pumped-in sea water.

Murchison Hydrogen Renewables says the ammonia plant will mix hydrogen and nitrogen (derived from atmospheric nitrogen) using Haber-Bosch technology and will comprise an air separation unit and a nitrogen storage space.

Additionally, the PtX plant is intended to have a 250MW-350MW battery with a two-hour capacity for regulating incoming renewable energy prior to distribution to the hydrogen electrolyzers.

Hydrogen storage will also be used – “as a conduit between energy and ammonia” and to ensure the electrolyzer and ammonia production processes run efficiently – via up to 200 hydrogen storage tanks with a combined capacity of up to 680 tons.

The documents indicate that a cryogenic ammonia export pipeline will connect the PtX plant and storage facility to a marine export terminal, with exact construction methods to be determined.

For the next week, the referral to the EPA is subject to public comment.

Murchison Hydrogen Renewables joins the genuinely gigantic 26GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub being created in Western Australia’s Pilbara region by a partnership led by Vestas, CWP Energy Asia, InterContinental Energy, and Pathway Investments.

The AREH has its own green ammonia manufacturing and export plans, which enabled the developers to increase the project’s proposed wind and solar capacity from 15GW to 26GW.

Meanwhile, Fortescue Future Industries also hinted at collaborating with other parties to develop a single “green Pilbara” strategy for giga-scale wind, solar, battery storage, and green hydrogen projects.

FFI, via its Pilbara Energy facility, submitted plans to the EPA in February for the 5.4GW Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub – a wind, solar, and battery energy storage complex located around 120 kilometers south of Onslow.

Elsewhere in the state, Ross Garnaut’s Sunshot Energy announced plans to create a large 800MWh battery as part of a green hydrogen and industrial cluster in Collie, the state’s coal area.

Sunshot stated that it was evaluating the economics of creating a hydrogen electrolyzer fueled by renewable energy that could also produce green ammonia and urea for agricultural and industrial applications.

On a lesser scale, Perth-based renewable energy company Infinite Blue Energy struck an agreement last month with Aboriginal-owned Boya Energy to build and develop a proposed 10MW green hydrogen facility in Northam, Western Australia.

The announcement comes on the heels of Infinite Blue Energy’s acquisition of the 11MW Northam solar farm late last month – a joint venture between Indigenous Business Australia and Bookitja, a division of Noongar Property Holdings.

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