FFI submits bid for SA hydrogen plant

As the state government of South Australia moves decisively to be a first mover in the quickly developing field, Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries is believed to have submitted a bid to establish a significant green hydrogen project in the state.

The Fortescue Metals Group’s green fuels division is anticipated to be one of many companies drawn in by South Australia’s intention to dedicate $593 million in public funding for a green hydrogen plant. The deadline for submitting proposals to construct the project was Tuesday at 5 p.m.

According to FFI, South Australia has a significant possibility to lead the way in the production of renewable energy, a company spokeswoman told The Australian Financial Review.

The best wind and solar resources in the nation are found in South Australia, which has a wealth of readily accessible natural resources for the renewable energy industry.

The SA government, according to an FFI representative, has been “active in setting ambitious but achievable targets for a renewable and green hydrogen economy,” which are consistent with FFI’s own goal of assisting the globe in moving beyond fossil fuels. On whether FFI had submitted a formal expression of interest, he chose not to comment.

The “first-mover” advantage is at risk, according to the top executive of the South Australian government body in charge of planning the plant and related infrastructure at Whyalla, thus speed of construction is a crucial factor.

The South African government has set a purposefully aggressive timeline for building the plant, which it hopes to have operational by December 2025 and which would be the largest of its kind in the world.

According to Sam Crafter, the chief executive of Hydrogen Power SA, the government organization in charge of the taxpayer-funded project, “first-mover advantage” is significant in the hydrogen sector. He declined to disclose the number of bidders.

By December 2025, it will be possible to maximize capturing the economic and supply chain benefits in such a young business by having the largest hydrogen production and hydrogen power generating facilities in the world, he said.

To assist in the construction of a 250-megawatt hydrogen production facility, a 200-megawatt hydrogen power plant, and a hydrogen storage facility, the government has asked businesses to submit expressions of interest by Tuesday. It would be powered by clean energy and assist in controlling the system’s excess renewable energy.

The key, according to Mr. Crafter, is for South Australia to secure the first-mover advantage.

At that magnitude, we will be a global leader. He claimed that while several hydrogen plants were being planned around the globe, none were of this size.

Although there is a lot of interest in the developing hydrogen industry, it has been reluctant to take off, in part due to the fuel’s small market up to this point. Heavy transportation and industrial processes are projected to use hydrogen fuel more frequently in order to reduce pollution.

The organization will evaluate the submitted plans over the course of the following three months, and by July it hopes to announce the chosen candidate. Mr. Crafter claimed that during a market research phase early in the process, both domestic and international players showed great interest.

The centerpiece of SA Premier Peter Malinauskas’ economic policy is the hydrogen plant and related infrastructure. A year ago, he won the most recent state election.

The proposed facility will be built at a number of locations near Whyalla, an industrial area in the north of the state, according to the SA government.

The Whyalla Steelworks, owned by British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta, is the reason Whyalla is most well-known on a national scale. Since its previous owner Arrium filed for bankruptcy, Mr. Gupta purchased the steelworks in 2017. But, Mr. Gupta’s own GFG Alliance global firm has had trouble refinancing $5 billion in funding that it had previously obtained from the defunct Greensill Capital.

In addition to offtake agreements for the “green hydrogen” produced at the facility, the SA government process includes the provision, building, and operation of the hydrogen plant and equipment.

The Whyalla planned locations are situated 15 kilometers to the northeast of Whyalla. They comprise an area of 238 hectares in the Whyalla Industrial Estate and an area of 8.7 hectares in the Cultana Industrial Estate.

Other sites may potentially be suggested, according to the expressions of interest procedure.

A December 2025 completion deadline, according to Mr. Crafter, was intentionally aggressive. He claimed that having a sizable factory operation would maximize supply chain advantages.

Trafigura, a Swiss-based trading company that also owns and runs the lead and silver smelters in Port Pirie and Hobart through its international subsidiary Nyrstar, is also looking at the possibility of building a second hydrogen production facility in Port Pirie. It is evaluating the viability of a future full-scale facility that would be able to generate 100 tonnes of green hydrogen each day using a 440-megawatt electrolyzer.

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