14 March 2024

SA closes in on finalising legislation for hydrogen and renewable energy development

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Hydrogen power in SA

Minister for Energy and Mining Tom Koutsantonis (centre) and Premier Peter Malinauskas (second from left) with OHPSA officials in Whyalla. Photo: Tom Koutsantonis Facebook.

Consultations have begun on South Australia’s Hydrogen and Renewable Energy (HRE) Act 2023 which passed the SA Parliament in November 2023.

The public consultations will inform the supporting regulations of the HRE, considered to be the final step in the legislative process which, when complete, will facilitate hydrogen and renewable energy development in South Australia.

The SA Government has proposed a set of draft regulations and is now seeking public feedback. The regulations will provide more detail on release areas for competitive tender, general licensing, environmental assessment, compliance and land access.

Once enacted, the HRE act will streamline the process for companies wanting to invest in large-scale hydrogen and renewable energy projects in South Australia. It creates a single regulatory framework that addresses key issues such as land access, environmental impact and Native Title rights.

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Under the HRE act:

  • The South Australian Government will identify government-owned land and waters where renewable energy projects can be hosted. Companies will compete for licences to deliver projects in these areas.
  • New licensing arrangements are established for projects across all land types, enabling regulation of the entire project life cycle.
  • A framework will ensure that developments are delivered with net environmental benefit.
  • Requirements will be in place to ensure land is rehabilitated and returned to pre-existing conditions.
  • First Nations people’s rights and interests will be considered early and throughout regulatory processes.
  • Fair outcomes for landowners, communities and other pre-existing land rights holders will be sought.

Consultation on the regulations is open for a six-week period, with submissions invited until Monday 15 April, and information can be found at www.yoursay.sa.gov.au.

A new hydrogen info hub and Office of Hydrogen Power South Australia (OHPSA) office has been established in Whyalla with a view to building a future power plant, electrolyser and storage facility nine kilometres east of the city by December 2025.

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Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Energy and Mining Tom Koutsantonis said this was the legislative and regulatory framework that underpinned the State Prosperity Project.

“The passage of the hydrogen and renewable energy act through parliament was a historic day for South Australia, marking a significant milestone in the state’s energy transition,” he said.

“This is world-first legislation that will transform South Australia’s economy, positioning us as a world leader in the clean energy revolution.

“South Australia is poised to become a hydrogen and renewable energy powerhouse, with our abundant wind and solar resources providing our state with a unique advantage,” he added. “In order to maximise this opportunity, we must get our legislative and regulatory framework right.

“The world is looking at South Australia as an attractive place to invest, and streamlining that process is a crucial step in securing that investment for decades to come.

“We want to do this in a way that protects the social, economic and environmental needs of the state, while also respecting Native Title and ensuring Aboriginal communities achieve benefit from this growing industry.

“As we’ve done throughout the process, we continue to work closely with communities and industries to get this legislation right. We encourage anyone with an interest in the future of hydrogen and renewable energy in South Australia to have their say.”

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