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Energy & Utilities

Update on the Murchison and Oakajee Green Hydrogen projects

8 Apr 2024, by Amy Sarcevic

The Murchison region of Australia’s Midwest is recognised as one of the best locations globally for green hydrogen production, given its quality wind and solar resources, and proximity to offtake markets.

One of the most notable developments in this area is the Murchison Green Hydrogen Project, by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP). Located 15 kilometres north of coastal town Kalbarri, it is the most developed multi gigawatt green facility, nationally, and one of six to be shortlisted on the Australian hydrogen head-start program.

Featuring an onshore wind and solar farm, desalination plant, and green hydrogen production facility, the project will generate ~6GW of renewable power to drive 3GW of electrolysis, and deliver ~1.9m tonnes per annum of green ammonia for export.

Its sibling, the Oakajee Green Hydrogen Project, is also a notable clean energy contributor, and anticipated to develop up to 1.5 GW of electrolysis by 2030.

Ahead of the Mid West and Gascoyne Major Projects Conference, Chief Executive Shohan Seneviratne shared some insights into the project’s status and his focus for the year ahead.

Learnings from pre-feed activities

Pre-FEED activities have led to a review of ammonia train sizing, with the company moving towards a number of smaller and more flexible ammonia trains to accommodate renewable energy uncertainties.

“Modularisation has been a balance between reducing site construction activities, economies of scale, MOF construction costs and road transportability,” Mr. Seneviratne said.

Pre-FEED studies have also assessed the use of all commercial electrolyser types, in addition to the base case of atmospheric alkaline.

“The definitive selection of the electrolyser supplier will be undertaken when the schedule requires a selection. Efficiency is continuously improving and costs are reducing as the supply chain matures and scales up capacity,” Mr Seneviratne said.

“Generally, a higher pressure operation is beneficial, as it reduces hydrogen / syn gas compression. However, selection is ultimately based on our confidence in the supply chain, our ability to operate on a variable power supply and minimising the levelised cost of hydrogen (LCOH).”

Meanwhile, the completion of 24 months’ of site Met Mast data has delivered improvements in wind capacity factor and confirmed the present solar capacity factor.

Additionally, a fresh look at storage has minimised both CAPEX and the risks associated with large quantities of pressurised hydrogen.

“We have minimised the requirement for hydrogen and battery storage through the use of a flexible ammonia plant with high turndown,” Mr Seneviratne said.

Global cost drivers

While developing a gigawatt-scale off-grid power generation facility carries significant technical challenges, Murchison benefits from its lack of reliance on the SWIS and associated complex connection processes.

However, with a project of this size, monitoring price movements in solar, wind and electrolysis is an ongoing focus.

“These have been monitored closely at both a project and fund level across 14+ projects, globally. It has been extremely valuable to have insight into these cost drivers from a portfolio of projects and regions,” Mr Seneviratne said.

Global market for clean ammonia

Global target markets have been under the spotlight in recent months, particularly Japan, Korea and Singapore, which are currently dominating the offtake sector.

Mr Seneviratne says the lack of certainty in pricing, policy mechanisms and subsidy programs has necessitated close attention to offtake markets, while the project positions itself at the forefront of Green Ammonia offtake.

Despite delays in offtake certainty, he believes there are good mechanisms, with South Korea bringing in the CHPS subsidy for the use of clean fuels in power generation. The program, although delayed, is expected to come into effect later this year.

Japan has also announced it will implement a contract for difference (CfD) mechanism for the production and import of clean hydrogen (and derivatives) into Japan.

“Both of these complement the Australian Hydrogen Head-Start Program and are big positive movements for the offtake market,” he said.

Learnings from marine export facility

The use of less intrusive marine export facilities have been reviewed to reduce the project’s impact on its surroundings.

“We have further developed the concept for a single point mooring based marine export facility that minimises environmental and community impact.

“Both CALM buoy and Tower Loading Unit Single Point Moorings have been deemed feasible”.

Further insight

Sharing more about the project and its key learnings to date, Shohan Seneviratne will present at the upcoming Mid West and Gascoyne Major Projects Conference to be held 17-18 April at the Novotel Perth Langley.

Learn more and register here.

About Shohan Seneviratne

Shohan has over twenty years’ experience in the Oil & Gas, Power Generation and Mining industries. With extensive experience leading global businesses, both in Australia and overseas, Shohan is adept at deploying expertise to develop and deliver projects, optimise assets and drive safety and commercial performance.

As a proud West Australian, Shohan is excited to leverage Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) renewable energy expertise to successfully deliver the Murchison Green Hydrogen project; one of the largest PtX projects globally.

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