Australia’s $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart program reaches new stage

On behalf of the Australian government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has revealed that six applicants have been shortlisted and invited to submit a full application in the next stage of the $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart program.

The applicants include:

  • BP Low Carbon Australia with H2Kwinana project in Western Australia,
  • HIF Asia Pacific with HIF Tasmania eFuel project in Tasmania,
  • KEPCO Australia (Korea Electric Power Corporation) with Port of Newcastle Green Hydrogen project in New South Wales,
  • Origin Energy Future Fuels with Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub project in New South Wales,
  • Stanwell Corporation with Central Queensland Hydrogen project in Queensland, and
  • Murchison Hydrogen Renewables as trustee for Murchison Hydrogen Renewables Project Trust with Murchison Hydrogen Renewables project in Western Australia

Together, the applicants are said to represent a total electrolyzer capacity of over 3.5 GW across various end uses, placing them amongst the largest renewable hydrogen projects in the world.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller pointed out that the strong interest in the program indicates that project developers are gaining confidence in Australia’s potential to host this important new industry:

“Hydrogen Headstart is a crucial step towards keeping Australia on the path to become a global hydrogen leader, creating new export opportunities, while helping to decarbonize our economy. The applicants shortlisted for the next stage provide us with the best opportunity at fast tracking our renewable hydrogen industry.”

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen commented: “Renewable hydrogen is crucial to reach net zero, while creating economic opportunities for regional Australia. We have the largest pipeline of renewable hydrogen projects in the world – Hydrogen Headstart is about supporting these projects to become a reality, as Australia transforms into a renewable energy superpower.”

To note, shortlisted applicants have until June 27, 2024, to submit their full application, and according to ARENA, the Australian government intends to announce funding recipients in late 2024.

The Hydrogen Headstart program was announced in the 2023-24 budget, and under it, projects seeking to produce renewable hydrogen or derivatives, such as renewable ammonia or methanol, at scale can apply for a production credit delivered over ten years to bridge the commercial gap between the cost of producing renewable hydrogen and the market price.