Climate Impact Corporation plans Australia's largest green hydrogen projects in SA, NT

Climate Impact Corporation plans Australia's largest green hydrogen projects in SA, NT

Climate Impact Corporation (CIC) co-founder and chairman David Green.

A global renewable energy project developer that only officially opened its Darwin project headquarters a few weeks ago has today announced plans to develop two of the country's largest green hydrogen projects in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

Climate Impact Corporation (CIC) is currently developing off-grid renewable hydrogen production modular technology in partnership with US multinational GE Vernova, to be utilised at its flagship Green Springs project in Western Davenport, NT.

The 10GW project comes with a hefty US$10 billion construction price tag, and a CIC spokesperson has told Business News Australia that another project planned for SA would likely be at a similar scale and cost. 

Its four partners - David Green, Nicholas O'Day, James Ieong and Eva Xie - have a breadth of experience with large-scale infrastructure projects, financing and dealmaking on a global scale, and since 2022 have been busy lining up all the ducks towards making a green vision a reality.

CIC currently manages two funds that are vehicles for funding both the development and the equity component of the Green Springs project, with the balance of the funding to come from project financing with a lead finance arranger to be announced in the coming weeks.

The company currently lists Asian Development Bank, DBS, Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA), State Street and MUFG as its capital partners, alongside a string of agency, investment, development and service provider partners ranging from Mitsubishi Corporation to EY to Worley to the World Economic Forum.

Compared to traditional renewable hydrogen production, which typically sources vast quantities of water from piped water sources and grid electricity, CIC’s modular hydrogen production units are designed to operate entirely off-grid, reducing demand on governments and communities to fund supporting infrastructure.

Each module contains solar panels, atmospheric water generators, electrolysers and supporting infrastructure to produce hydrogen as an individual standalone unit. Crucially, the use of atmospheric water allows hydrogen to be produced anywhere where solar radiation is abundant, opening up new locations in central Australia as potential renewable fuel hubs.

CIC chairman and co-founder David Green says the company's approach will unlock inland hydrogen production opportunities in "solar-rich locations".

"Renewable hydrogen production requires a significant amount of energy and water, which aren’t often found together in places like Australia,” says Green, who co-founded CIC with O'Day and Ieong.

“Rather than repeating the same approach, we’re looking to solve this challenge by creating modules that use Australia’s abundant solar resources, combined with proven atmospheric water generation technology.

"It’s an approach that solves one of the biggest challenges Australia has faced in becoming a renewable hydrogen superpower, and we’re excited to be bringing it to market first in Australia."

This is made possible by CIC's agreement with GE Vernova reached in May as it looks to push production efficiency closer to achieving a cost-competitive US$2 per kilogram price point.

"Disruptive innovation will be required to reach Green Springs’ target of US$2 per kilogram price point," Oliver Jamart, executive director for microgrids at GE Vernova’s Power Conversion business, said at the time.

"I am confident GE Vernova has the technology, experience, and track record to support CIC in their mission," he said.

"GE Vernova’s broad expertise in AC and DC coupled power electronic systems, along with our Energy Management System experience in mission-critical industries, enables us to take a system design approach with a clear focus on efficiency, availability and maintainability."

The company also signed several agreements with strategic partners including JA Solar, Sungrow Hydrogen and Shuangliang Hydrogen during the inauguration of its first project-related Australian office in Darwin, which was attended by dignitaries including Hon Mark Monaghan and MP Luke Gosling.

CIC has been considering the potential for development of a 10GW renewable hydrogen project in South Australia for well over two years and recently met with key members of the South Australian government in Adelaide last month, including Deputy Premier Hon Susan Close MP and Minister for Trade Hon Joe Szakacs MP to further discuss its plans and seek Government’s general support for the project.

CIC and its partners including GE Vernova discussed how module development in Australia would include a local supply chain, with the electrolysers and other critical elements of the modules to be potentially manufactured in Adelaide.

"The demand for dependable, sustainable, and affordable renewable fuels in the Asia-Pacific is growing, and Australia is perfectly placed become a regional hydrogen superpower to meet that need," adds Green.

"But that means we need to invest in technology that maximises Australia’s advantages, and come up with creative solutions to challenges like water scarcity without a huge financial burden being placed on governments and communities. Modular, off-grid hydrogen is based on proven technology and has enormous potential to meet Australia and the region’s renewable fuel needs."

With the first test modules expected to be producing hydrogen in the Northern Territory or South Australia as soon as later this year, Green has also called on Australian governments to embrace the opportunity ahead of them.

"We need Australian governments to lean in if we want Australia to lead in this technology instead of being of it being used in other countries first," he says.

"We’re speaking to leaders in Adelaide and Darwin about renewable hydrogen projects in their states and territories, as well as component manufacturing, that will provide ongoing jobs for hundreds of people while producing zero-carbon fuels. Government support on permitting, streamlining approvals process, and ensuring suitable sites are available would accelerate this investment significantly."

Green is a founding partner of LA Capital Investments, and has held numerous senior roles within water-related entities, such as directorships with Water Utilities Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and has also been Commissioner of the Queensland Water Commission and led Ernst & Young's national water practice. 

Green was also a founding partner of Lyon Group, an independently owned group of companies established in 2003 which focused on solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery development, ownership and operation, until it went into liquidation in 2019.

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