Peter Malinauskas’ experimental hydrogen plant in South Australia has come under scrutiny for its potential impact on water resources from the River Murray and the lack of energy bill relief for households despite a significant taxpayer investment of $600 million.
During a Budget and Finance Committee hearing, Sam Crafter, Chief Executive of the Office of Hydrogen Power South Australia, revealed that the hydrogen plant could utilize water from the River Murray as a resource for operation. Industry experts estimate that producing one tonne of hydrogen requires up to 20 tonnes of water, prompting concerns about the plant’s impact on water availability.
Crafter acknowledged that the project was exploring “water solutions” by leveraging existing infrastructure from SA Water, including resources from the River Murray. However, the details of how the water needs will be met and the implications for the Upper Spencer Gulf and water supply in the region remain under evaluation.
In addition to the water concerns, the hydrogen power plant has faced criticism for not delivering cheaper electricity bills for South Australian households. When questioned about the potential reduction in household electricity bills, Crafter consistently reiterated that the plant’s primary objective was to lower prices for industrial customers.
The lack of transparency surrounding the project has drawn criticism from Shadow Minister for Energy and Net Zero, Stephen Patterson. He expressed concerns about the sourcing of water and the absence of a detailed plan for reducing electricity costs, describing the hydrogen power plant as more of a fantasy than a reality.
The revelation of broken promises added to the skepticism surrounding the project. The hydrogen plant was expected to include 3,600 tonnes of liquefied hydrogen storage, but it appears that the actual storage capacity will be significantly lower, with the exact figure remaining undisclosed.
The Budget and Finance Committee Chair, Heidi Girolamo, emphasized that the project raised more questions than it answered, highlighting the lack of trust in Peter Malinauskas’ ability to fulfill promises. The committee’s findings have further undermined the credibility of the hydrogen plant, leaving taxpayers concerned about the significant investment made without tangible benefits for households and the potential environmental impact on water resources.