The Northern Territory government has unveiled plans for a massive renewable hydrogen zone, as well as a new renewable energy hub, as it seeks to grab a major share of Australia’s renewable hydrogen export opportunities and transition its local electricity networks.
The plans are laid out in three key documents released this week that are focused on what’s needed to deliver on its promise to reach 50 per cent renewables by 2030, and to grow a multi-billion dollar market in renewable hydrogen that it hopes will replicate its success in LNG.
The documents make clear that the NT has some of the best solar resources in the world, particularly in the southern part of the territory. “Sunshine for sale”, it boasts.
This has been long recognised, but the NT’s efforts to reach 50 per cent renewables – first announced in 2017 – have been stalled by divisions over grid design and market rules, and how to accommodate new technologies into ageing networks, and controversies over a series of blackouts.
So far more than 45MW of large-scale solar has been built, but not connected because the local regulators are scared of what might happen when they do. Some of the solar farms have been sitting idle for nearly two years, and legal action is being threatened over new rules.
The new document is recommending a three-stage process to facilitate the transition, and recognises that a lot of battery storage will be needed to accommodate solar, particularly as no significant wind resource has been identified.