23 January 2024

Commonwealth investment in Tasmanian renewable hydrogen hub project at Bell Bay

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Bell Bay TAS

Bell Bay is a natural deep-water port near the mouth of Tasmania’s Tamar River. Photo: TasPorts.

The Commonwealth has announced it will invest $70 million into the development of a renewable hydrogen industry at Bell Bay.

Located just south of Georgetown on the Tamar River, Bell Bay is a deep-water port that is already home to an aluminium smelter and several other industrial sites, and has been selected as an ideal location for a hydrogen hub designed to produce 45,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen a year.

The project will generate 740 jobs for engineers and technicians, and during construction there will be work for concreters, plumbers, fitters and electricians. The port is already powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.

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The effort to develop the hydrogen hub at Bell Bay has been a protracted one, with several stop-start projects and signed memorandums of understanding with companies such as Fortescue, Woodside, Origin and Iberdrola that have failed to progress. In 2022 and 2023 Iberdrola and Abel proposed a joint venture to redevelop the former Bell Bay Power Station into a renewable hydrogen and methanal production facility, for which a decision is due in 2024.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said the facility was scheduled to be completed by 2028, and that supporting renewable hydrogen production was vital to Australia’s future as a green energy exporter and green manufacturing nation.

“Investing in an Australian renewable hydrogen industry is investing in Australia’s future to become a renewable energy superpower,” he said.

“Bell Bay is a production and export powerhouse, backed by 100 per cent renewable electricity, and this hub will provide jobs, support new manufacturing and spur investment in regional Australia as the world decarbonises.”

Tasmanian Minister for Energy and Renewables Nick Duigan said delivering the Bell Bay hub was a huge step towards a major new industry.

“Northern Tasmania is set to be the new home of renewable energy generation, using projects like this to attract huge investments in renewable hydrogen for use in Australia and supply to the world,” Mr Duigan said.

“Bell Bay is perfectly placed to be a world-class green hydrogen hub, with its established port infrastructure and highly experienced and skilled workforce.”

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The Tasmanian Government is leading a consortium of partners including TasPorts, TasNetworks, TasWater, TasIrrigation, and the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone to deliver the $300 million project.

Bell Bay is part of more than $500 million in Commonwealth funding for hydrogen hubs in regional centres including Kwinana and the Pilbara in WA, Gladstone and Townsville in Queensland, Port Bonython in SA, and the NSW Hunter region that will create new industries and regional job opportunities.

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