SA Labor unveils hydrogen energy plan

·3-min read

Labor has unveiled a $590 million pitch to voters in South Australia with a pledge to build a hydrogen power station to supply cleaner, cheaper electricity if the party wins next year's state election.

The opposition is yet to reveal a location for the new facility, but says it should be operational by the end of 2025.

As well as the government-owned and operated 200-megawatt plant, Labor says it will build a 3600-tonne hydrogen storage facility to provide additional capacity when needed.

A key element will also be the use of excess solar energy from business and household rooftops to produce hydrogen from water.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas says the plan will create about 300 jobs during the construction phase, but will also unlock about 10,000 jobs by fostering other renewable energy projects.

A further 900 jobs will flow through the development of a hydrogen export industry.

"Hydrogen is central to the world's energy future. It's cleaner, it's cheaper and South Australia is uniquely positioned to become a world leader with our abundant wind and solar resources," Mr Malinauskas said.

"South Australia has a proud legacy of leading Australia and the world on renewable energy and this is our next leap forward.

"We have all the ingredients, we just need a vision."

Energy economist Danny Price said the hydrogen plant would take advantage of the abundance of renewable energy produced in SA.

"South Australia has a great advantage in producing renewable energy at very low cost," he said.

"What this does is soaks up the excess capacity and stabilises the system.

"But it is also an independent source of (power) generation and it is dispatchable."

Mr Price said the hydrogen generation facility would be the biggest in the world and would be a clear demonstration of power technology of the future.

The Conservation Council said it hoped the plan would kickstart an "energy race" to cleaner technologies ahead of next year's poll.

"Using renewable hydrogen alongside batteries is a far better grid stability option than fossil gas," chief executive Craig Wilkins said.

The announcement also came as the state government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands to study exporting hydrogen made in SA.

The port is a leader in the transition to renewable energy and has developed an ambitious hydrogen masterplan to become the major import hub to supply northwest Europe with renewable energy.

"The South Australian government intends to become a national and international exporter of clean power, through new power interconnectors and carriers such as hydrogen," Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said.

"We know that costs related to the shipping distance are but a small part of the total costs of hydrogen delivered in Rotterdam. The majority of the cost is in production, liquification and storage.

"This means that local conditions such as the amount of sunshine and wind that exist in South Australia could make this hydrogen very competitive on the European market."