Origin CEO Frank Calabria at Kooragang Island along with Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Orica CEO Sanjeev Gandhi

The Federal Government has awarded Origin $70 million as part of its Regional Hydrogen Hubs program, in order to progress the proposed Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub (HVHH). 

The funding was announced during a visit to Newcastle by the Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen. The HVHH, which is being assessed in collaboration with Orica, aims to support a reliable and commercial scale green hydrogen supply chain in the Newcastle industrial and port precinct.

The first stage of the potential HVHH consists of a 55MW electrolyser, which is expected to produce up to 5,500t of green hydrogen per year. The intention is for the hydrogen to be generated using recycled water and grid-connected electricity, supported by the surrender of large-scale renewable certificates. The majority of the hydrogen will be delivered to Orica, and also made available to transport customers.

Hydrogen manufactured at the facility will be piped to Orica’s manufacturing site where it will be used to replace natural gas in the production of green ammonia and ammonium nitrate – crucial products for many businesses across New South Wales including the mining, agriculture, health and food industries.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreements have also been established between Orica, Origin Energy, and the Port of Newcastle to potentially scale up production in subsequent phases of the HVHH development in the Clean Energy Precinct.

Origin CEO, Frank Calabria, said Origin is pleased to receive Federal Government funding to support continued work on the HVHH, one of the leading green hydrogen projects under consideration.

“Working in collaboration with Orica, we have continued to build expertise in different aspects of the hydrogen value chain needed to support successful development of the Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub,” Mr Calabria said.  

“We believe hydrogen has the potential to be a new industry for Australia that could contribute to a cleaner future for manufacturing, transport, and heavy industry.

“There are challenges that still need to be overcome for Australia to deliver hydrogen at scale, and strong collaboration across industry, governments and communities will be a critical factor to success.”

A site has been secured close to Orica’s Kooragang Island ammonia manufacturing facility, allowing for the efficient delivery of hydrogen to help decarbonise operations. Origin also intends to make hydrogen available to transport customers through onsite and satellite refuelling stations.

The industrial area of Kooragang Island is an ideal location for the HVHH given its access to large energy users, skilled workers, and existing energy infrastructure. 

The HVHH is currently progressing through front-end engineering design, which will help inform the final technical and commercial details of the development. Planning is also underway to progress the required environmental approvals. 

Pending a final investment decision, Origin will target first hydrogen production from 2026.

Featured image: Origin CEO Frank Calabria at Kooragang Island along with Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Orica CEO Sanjeev Gandhi. Image credit: Origin Energy.

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