Whyalla pitched as hydrogen home

HYDROGEN FUTURE: Premier Steven Marshall and GFG Alliance Chairman Sanjeev Gupta in Whyalla in 2018.

HYDROGEN FUTURE: Premier Steven Marshall and GFG Alliance Chairman Sanjeev Gupta in Whyalla in 2018.

Whyalla has been pitched as a potential home for a $70 million hydrogen hub, with GFG Alliance Chairman Sanjeev Gupta pushing for the hub to be located in South Australia.

Hydrogen is set to play a key role in Mr Gupta's ambitions to become a carbon neutral steelmaker, and he says he would welcome the co-location of a hydrogen hub at Whyalla or Bell Bay in Tasmania.

The hydrogen hub was announced as part of a $1.9 billion federal energy package announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last Thursday.

Mr Gupta said applying hydrogen to the company's steelmaking process would help solve storage and transport issues involved with using hydrogen.

"With its abundant renewable energy resources and iron ore, Australia is well positioned to be a leader in green hydrogen production and our Whyalla steelworks transformation plan foresees this," he said.

"With hydrogen production established the benefits go beyond steel and could see Australia become a global hub of green and clean industries.

"Whether Whyalla or Bell Bay, we would welcome the co-location of hydrogen infrastructure that supports Australia's roadmap to being a global leader in hydrogen."

State Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said he considered both Whyalla and Port Bonython ideal locations for a hydrogen hub.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said exporting hydrogen could be done from the Port Bonython jetty, and potentially at Whyalla by making the Whyalla Port deeper.

"If it was done at Port Bonython it would still be a Whyalla industry, so I see it as a very good option," he said.

"South Australia is going to make hydrogen and we're going to export it, it's going to happen...there's competition between the states to see who can get in and do this first because there will be a valuable first mover advantage.

"I'm determined to do everything we can to get that for South Australia and I see the Spencer Gulf as an ideal place for it."

The Australian hydrogen industry is estimated to be worth around 10,000 jobs, with the potential for hydrogen production and export to become as important to the Spencer Gulf as steelmaking currently is.

"We have the opportunity to produce hydrogen and use it locally at the Whyalla Steelworks, which would be an enormous boost for Whyalla," Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

Member for Giles Eddie Hughes, who investigated the potential for the steel city to become a hydrogen hub following job losses at Arrium in 2015, said Whyalla had the right infrastructure in place for the job.

Mr Hughes said land near the Point Lowly turn-off which was originally set aside for a titanium dioxide manufacturing plant would be a 'sensible' location for a hydrogen hub.

"I think it's an appropriate site...it gets away from the marine environment and it's well away from the city and any development - that should be seriously entertained," he said.

"We've got all the industrial-grade infrastructure in place, we've got strong national grid connection, road, rail and a skilled workforce that could be added to."

Mr Hughes called on the state government to commit to Whyalla as the best site in the state for the hydrogen hub.

"The government needs to make its mind up and say Whyalla needs to be the site...we don't want a scattergun approach," he said.

The Labor state government under Jay Weatherill developed a hydrogen roadmap and funded a number of projects around the state.