The Asian Renewable Energy Hub in outback Western Australia would develop up to 26GW of wind and solar power capacity, which could be used to produce 1.6 million tonnes of green hydrogen or 9 million tonnes a year of ammonia into which hydrogen is super chilled to allow its transport by ship.
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The project’s co-founders, privately owned InterContinental Energy and CWP Global, are counting on BP to jump-start the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, which has been set back by Australian government concerns about damage to wetlands.
The project fits with BP’s push away from fossil fuels to clean energy and could advance its aim to grab a 10 per cent share of the global hydrogen market, BP’s executive vice president of gas and low carbon energy Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath said.
BP expects hydrogen to account for 10 per cent to 15 per cent of global energy by 2050 and is looking into several other large-scale hydrogen and ammonia export hubs around the world, Dotzenrath told Reuters.
The Asian Renewable Energy Hub “will not be the last one, but this is a very, very important project for us and I hope a clear signal that we want to establish ourselves in that market”, she said.
BP said it was too early to talk about the overall cost of the project, but said capital investment to deliver the full scale of the project was likely to be in the tens of billions of dollars.
It aims to start producing power at the Asian Renewable Energy Hub by 2029, when the first phase of 4GW of renewable power will get online. The two other phases of 6GW of green hydrogen and 14GW of ammonia for exports, would be developed over the next decade, she added.
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The Australian government put the Asian Renewable Energy Hub’s plan to use 15GW of clean power to split water to produce green hydrogen and ammonia for export on a fast track for approvals in 2020 but then left the project in limbo a year ago, when it raised environmental concerns about AREH’s plan to expand to 26GW.
The government said the expansion would have “unacceptable impacts” on internationally recognised wetlands and migratory bird species and the issue has yet to be resolved.
Dotzenrath said BP was working on a revised development proposal that would seek to address the environmental concerns.