A trio of companies, including Australian heavyweights Origin Energy and Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), are carrying out separate studies into potential green hydrogen export projects in Tasmania.

Origin confirmed Tuesday it was investigating the potential to build a more 500 megawatt green hydrogen plant at Bell Bay, capable of producing more than 420,000 tonnes per annum of zero emissions ammonia.

Origin’s A$3.2 million (US$2.3 million) feasibility study into the proposed development will be partly funded by a A$1.6 million grant provided by the Tasmanian state government.

“We are excited to be partnering with the Tasmanian government on this groundbreaking plan to use 100% renewable energy and sustainable water to power one of the world’s first export scale green hydrogen and ammonia plants,” Origin general manager of future fuels Felicity Underhill said.

“As an integrated energy company operating in key parts of the value chain, Origin is ideally placed to develop large scale green hydrogen and ammonia projects and connect them to markets, either to stimulate a domestic hydrogen economy or to enable the export of energy produced from renewable sources.”

The feasibility study is expected to be completed by December next year, with first production being targeted by the mid-2020s.

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Fortescue unveils green hydrogen plan

Meanwhile, FMG revealed its own plan on Tuesday for a 250MW green hydrogen plant at the Bell Bay industrial precinct, with a production capacity of 250,000 tpa.

It comes after the Australian iron ore giant revealed last week it intended to become one of the world’s largest renewables and green hydrogen players with a 235 gigawatt operating base.

FMG also confirmed Tuesday that its planned Bell Bay project had qualified for the Tasmanian government’s A$50 million Renewable Hydrogen Industry Development Funding programme.

“Subject to detailed feasibility analysis, the Tasmania Project will be an important step in demonstrating our intention to position Australia at the forefront of the establishment of a bulk export market for green hydrogen,” said FMG chief executive Elizabeth Gaines.

“Partnering with the Tasmanian government to harness the abundant renewable energy in Tasmania, we see potential to create a significant new green industry.”

Tasmania’s Minister for Energy, Guy Barnett, confirmed Tuesday in a separate announcement that FMG was targeting a final investment decision on its project in 2021.

“Subject to this decision, the project has the potential to create more than 350 construction jobs and 100 operational roles for the initial phase. Using Tasmania’s renewable energy resources, there is opportunity for further expansion,” he added.

“It’s more confirmation of Tasmania’s competitive advantages in renewable hydrogen production, based on our low-cost, abundant and reliable renewable energy resources, our access to plentiful fresh water and our prime ‘hydrogen hub’ locations such as the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone.”

Green methanol

The Tasmanian government also revealed Tuesday that it would partly fund a feasibility study being carried out by Abel Energy into a 100MW green hydrogen and methanol project.

Abel’s plan would see hydrogen reacted onsite with CO2 to produce rough 60,000 tpa of green methanol, with first production expected in 2023.

The plan would also see a small dimethyl ether (DME) plant built either onsite or at another location, producing renewable DME from methanol for local industry.

All three proposed projects would see green ammonia or methanol exported from Tasmania to overseas markets, while they would also reserve a portion of green hydrogen for domestic use.