BlueScope and energy giant Shell have announced a joint venture to develop green hydrogen projects at Port Kembla Steelworks.
- The plant would be five times larger than any existing operation in Australia
- Companies will also work on plans to make Illawarra a hydrogen hub
- BlueScope says such an operation would require government and customer support
The companies signed a memorandum of understanding to study the design, construction and operation of a pilot-scale 10 megawatt renewable hydrogen electrolyser.
It would be used to test the operation of green hydrogen in the blast furnace at the Port Kembla steelworks.
BlueScope chief executive Mark Vassella said it will be a learning process.
“We’re excited to see what a pilot hydrogen electrolyzer can teach us about hydrogen production, storage and handling… how hydrogen will behave in a blast furnace,” he said.
The companies will also collaborate to develop a “hydrogen hub” in Illawarra and work to establish a commercially viable hydrogen supply chain in the region.
“Any potential future hydrogen hub in the Illawarra will need broad support from governments, regulators, customers and suppliers,” Vasella said.
In July, Shell made international headlines when it started up a 10 MW electrolyser plant to produce green hydrogen at its Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland refinery in Wesseling, Germany.
It had taken five years of preparation and had received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking partnership.
It is understood that the companies will explore mixing technology from experiences in Europe with new research being developed in Australia.
Director of the University of Wollongong’s Energy Futures group, Ty Christopher, said the partnership was “hugely exciting for the Illawarra”.
In March, the New South Wales government announced $70 million to establish hydrogen centers across the state and Mr Christopher said the Port Kembla project was a good match for the funding.
“It would be fantastic to see government money applied to this project and other initiatives in Illawarra so that we can stimulate the creation of industry,” he said.
Mr Christopher said the university wants to stay at the forefront of innovation with local industry.
“We have already developed state-of-the-art clean hydrogen electrolyzer production technology through our Hysata company based at the university’s innovation campus,” he said.
“We view all of these announcements based on hydrogen production and clean industry as milestones in this journey of continued collaboration with important local industry for the benefit of everyone in our region.”
Today’s announcement follows a memorandum of understanding BlueScope signed in October with resource giant Rio Tinto to explore ways to make green steel.
They will investigate the potential for using clean hydrogen to replace coking coal at the BlueScope steelworks in Port Kembla.