Green hydrogen feasibility study positions Port of Newcastle to drive a more diverse Hunter economy

Monday, 8 November 2021

As announced today by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia’s deepwater global gateway, Port of Newcastle, is partnering with Macquarie Group’s Green Investment Group and the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support the development of a hydrogen economy in the Hunter Region.

Port of Newcastle and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group have launched a $A3 million feasibility study into the development of a green hydrogen hub at the Port that includes the backing of a $A1.5 million funding grant from ARENA, secured under its Advancing Renewables Program. The hub, called the Port of Newcastle Hydrogen Hub, will initially be underpinned by a 40MW electrolyser that over time would increase to a capacity of over 1GW.

The feasibility study into the initial 40MW hub will determine a broad and comprehensive range of potential use cases for green hydrogen in the Hunter which build on the region’s strong industrial heritage. These include mobility, bunkering, energy production and industrial uses at the scale necessary to position the Hunter at the centre of the emerging global green hydrogen opportunity. Developing these use cases would support the creation of local jobs during construction and operations, the development of new industries and contribute to Australia’s long-term economic and energy security.

The study will also assess the suitability of an optimal site within the Port which, given its large size and existing infrastructure, has a range of options for developing and scaling-up hydrogen and ammonia infrastructure that can successfully link into existing East Coast supply chains.

Port of Newcastle and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group have also signed Memoranda of Understanding with Idemitsu, Keolis Downer, Lake Macquarie City Council, Snowy Hydro and Jemena, all of whom will participate in the feasibility study. Macquarie’s agriculture platform, which manages more than 4.5 million hectares of farmland across Australia, will also participate in the feasibility study, focusing on green ammonia for fertiliser production. These partnerships represent key industries in the Hunter Region including agriculture, mobility, export and bunkering, energy generation and transport. A Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed with the University of Newcastle as the project’s R&D partner.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, said: “Today’s announcement sets our region up to be become a hub of hydrogen innovation and the University is excited to be a key partner on this important project.

“Our University’s track record through NIER shows we know how to partner with industry to research and demonstrate new hydrogen technologies and their various potential applications in this region - we’ve got the innovation capabilities and the industry relationships to do this.

“Our University is absolutely committed to working with partners to grow new industries for our region and we know today’s announcement will be an important milestone for the future of our region, NSW and Australia.”

Port of Newcastle Chair, Professor Roy Green, said a green hydrogen hub in the Hunter, underpinned by a 40MW electrolyser, would support the development of new industries in the region and contribute to Australia’s long-term economic and energy security, as well as creating local jobs during construction and operations.  

Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody said: “We are delighted that ARENA has decided to partner with us for this important feasibility study into the Port of Newcastle Hydrogen Hub Project. We thank them for recognising Port of Newcastle’s capabilities for this important regional development opportunity.

“It makes sense for the Port of Newcastle to play a substantial role in Australia’s bid to become a significant renewable exporter. With our existing access to global energy supply chains, world-class infrastructure, strong industry partnerships, proximity to the existing demand, links to domestic road and rail networks, a local highly skilled workforce and proximity to renewable energy zones, Port of Newcastle is well placed to develop a hydrogen hub and export hydrogen as a tradable energy commodity.

“By partnering with Macquarie’s Green Investment Group to develop the Port of Newcastle Hydrogen Hub Project, we are tapping into the expertise of a world-leading renewables developer, investor and financier. Our partnership brings together local knowledge and international experience to support the diversification of the Port, so that the Hunter continues to be an engine of economic growth for the region and New South Wales.”

The Port of Newcastle Hydrogen Project will support the Federal and NSW governments’ ambitions to produce and export the cheapest clean hydrogen in the world. It will focus on the production of green hydrogen for domestic and export use, incorporating a green ammonia plant, green hydrogen plant and grid-connected energy solution that will support the regions abundant renewable resource.

Mr Carmody said: “We are committed to future diversification at Port of Newcastle, and this is a significant vote of confidence in our future ambitions to identify and embrace step-change opportunities to create thousands of low-carbon jobs in a new export industry, contribute to the Hunter, NSW and Australian economy, support local industries and customers, and ensure a stronger Port for the future. This project is part of our commitment to providing Hunter industries with more environmentally sustainable export pathways to global markets.

“This project has the potential to create thousands of low-carbon jobs in a new export industry for the Port, the Hunter, NSW and Australia. Not only does it support our diversification plans here at the Port, but also our commitment to clean energy diversification, renewables projects and further opportunities to support local jobs and more environmentally sustainable export pathways to global markets.”

Macquarie’s Green Investment Group Head of Industrial Transition and Clean Fuels, Kate Vidgen, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Port of Newcastle to progress an internationally significant green hydrogen hub and, in doing so, support the diversification of the Hunter’s economy.  Countries around the world are actively pursuing green hydrogen opportunities but only a few of the projects we see have the Hunter’s attributes: a strong industrial heritage, a number of domestic and export use cases, and existing high-quality transport and energy infrastructure, and a highly trained local workforce.

“We believe Port of Newcastle has significant scope for producing green hydrogen at the scale required to make it price competitive internationally. To put it into context, a 40MW electrolyser can generate sufficient green hydrogen to power 900 buses for a year. An electrolyser with 40MW capacity at the Port of Newcastle Hydrogen Project would support a diversity of use cases, and we are really looking forward to working with our project partners, who represent a range of industries, on this important feasibility study. Working with our project partners, collaborators and a range of stakeholders, this feasibility study will take us even closer to better understanding the range of domestic and export opportunities.”

Mr Carmody said: “The potential for the Port of Newcastle to export hydrogen overseas as a tradable energy commodity is a huge coup for the region, positioning the Port of Newcastle to provide the backdrop for Australia’s future export opportunity and remain a world-leading energy export hub.”

“Not only does the region have existing skill base and infrastructure, but it also has scalability to support a long-term cost advantage as hydrogen strengthens as a global commodity.”

For more information, visit the Port of Newcastle Hydrogen Hub Project.


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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.