IN FOCUS: The Murchison Renewable Hydrogen Project

murchison, HRA, AGIG

Hydrogen Renewables Australia (HRA) is developing a large-scale wind and solar farm (up to 5000MW) in Western Australia to produce low-cost renewable hydrogen for the Asian energy market. We speak to HRA’s co-founder and executive chairman Terry Kallis about the Murchison Renewable Hydrogen Project.

The Murchison Renewable Hydrogen project is, according to Terry, located in the absolute best location in Australia for a combined wind and solar plant to generate energy to produce hydrogen. The project will be located on Murchison House Station – one of the oldest pastoral stations in Western Australia – just north of Kalbarri in the state’s mid-north west.

“If you look at the wind resource and the solar resource, when you combine them, when the wind isn’t there the solar is, so we’ve got a high capacity factor of 54 per cent wind and 34 per cent solar,” Terry says. 

“The other reason why it’s an ideal position is that is that it’s not that far north to be in cyclonic conditions and if you’re into cyclonic areas your structures need to be more robust and therefore more costly.”

Murchison
Terry Kallis leads stakeholder consultation

A recent milestone for the project was signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) to examine the feasibility of injecting hydrogen into the nearby Dampier to Bunbury Pipeline.

“What we’ve agreed to do is cooperate and work together on three things: policy, technical, and commercial aspects to do with the feasibility of injecting hydrogen into their gas pipeline,” Terry says.

HRA has also signed a MOU with Siemens to co-operate on developing the electrolyser technology needed to realise large capacity, high efficiency hydrogen production for the project.

The project is not aiming to supply renewable hydrogen for the local grid, rather supply the Asian market with renewable hydrogen. Terry says the project could potentially supply around 15 per cent of the Japanese market by 2030, which is expected to be quite a large market by then.

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“We’re going to connect into the nearby gas pipeline – the largest pipeline in Australia – and potentially a 500MW or 600MW project would be the first step,” Terry says.

“After that, we would stage over a period of 10 years and build capacity up to 5000MW, supplying basically either through ammonia or through liquid hydrogen through the Asian markets.

“Really it comes back to what customers want. Some customers may be happy to receive it in the form of ammonia, which is cheaper to ship, but it involves two stages from conversion.

Murchison
Stakeholder consultation

“So you actually convert it into ammonia and at the other end you have to break down the ammonia, whereas if you make it liquid hydrogen it’s just one step. However, it’s more expensive to transport because you need specialised ships to transport the liquid hydrogen.”

The Murchison project is currently going through development stages.

“We’ve got a Section 91 licence, which is issued by the WA Government that allows us to put monitoring equipment to start measuring the wind and solar,” Terry says.

“We’ve done that with the local indigenous Nanda People and so the next stage will be to put actual monitoring equipment in place and the feasibility assessment of the project.”

HRA has signed a heritage agreement for the part of work to install monitoring equipment, which identifies about 45 heritage sites that will be observed and avoided. The monitoring is expected to have minimal impact.

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“Looking at putting the wind and solar plant in place, that will obviously be determined with a broader agreement, which incorporates a number of indigenous heritage and Native Title matters,” Terry says.

“Ultimately because it’s a wind and solar project, you can down the track pretty easily reinstate the land back to what it was. So it’s not seen as a major issue by the Nanda People, but it is a very important part of the Nanda People’s heritage; they have a lot of history there.”  

Terry says at this stage, it will be two to three years before the project hits financial close, but in the meantime, HRA is developing agreements with parties interested in offtake or are interested in investing in the project.

“We’ve had visits last year to Japan and there has been some good interest. I expect to be announcing October to early November that we have a partner on board to fund the project so that’s underway at the moment,” Terry says.

“It’s a very large European company and they’re going through their due diligence. They obviously need to come and see the sights and all of that and that’s why it’s going to take a little while with the COVID-19 situation.”

But, Terry says in October this year, HRA expects to be pushing forward very quickly with the Murchison Renewable Hydrogen Project.