Australian territory puts oil giant's green hydrogen project on fast track for regulatory approvals
The 1GW Darwin H2 Hub being developed by a joint venture of TotalEnergies and EREN has been awarded major project status
The government of Australia’s Northern Territory has granted the Darwin H2 Hub — a 1GW green hydrogen project being developed by TE H2, which is 80%-owned French oil major TotalEnergies — so-called major project status, in a bid to speed up approvals.
In addition to formally acknowledging that the H2 plant is significant to the Northern Territory’s economic development, the regional government will identify and map out relevant approvals, appoint a dedicated case manager, and allow the developers to access “investment attraction opportunities, which include overseas trade missions, to access markets and potential sources of finance”.
In June last year, the Northern Territory had also issued TE H2 with a 12-month “not to deal” commitment, which reserves land on their preferred site at the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct.
These commitments have also been granted to Australian energy and mining giant Fortescue for a green hydrogen and ammonia project (although little information has been released by the company to date), and — controversially given the nominal focus on sustainability — Tamboran Resources for its planned gas liquefaction and export facility.
While the territory has not set out any specific targets for hydrogen production, its master plan released in October 2021 foresees export to Asia, including key trading partners Japan, South Korea and China, as well as to Germany.
“The TE H2 project is an example of how this Government sources new clean energy projects that will significantly contribute to the Territory’s drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Eva Lawler, the territory’s chief minister.
“With our abundant solar resources and our strategic location to support exports into the Indo-Pacific, the production of green hydrogen is a key opportunity for the Territory to address the growing demand for this green energy globally,” she added.
TE H2, which is 20%-owned by Luxembourg-based EREN Group, was formed as a new partnership last summer when TotalEnergies fully acquired the Total Eren joint venture, which was otherwise integrated into the oil major’s renewables business unit.
The developer plans to build 2GW of solar PV modules to power 1GW of electrolysis capacity for the Darwin H2 Hub in order to produce 80,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen a year, although a final project design is yet to be completed.
“The proposed Darwin H2 Hub is TE H2’s cornerstone project and aims to be the Northern Territory's first solar-powered green hydrogen production and export project, delivering sustainable and cost-competitive power for domestic use and global export,” said the joint venture’s managing director for Australia, Kam Ho.
“‘Major Project Status’ marks a significant milestone in the project development. The current objective is to pursue studies in order to consider Final Investment Decision (FID) by 2027,” he added.