The Australian federal government and the state of Western Australia (WA) have finalised an agreement to invest A$70m (US$45.8m) each to build a hydrogen hub in the Pilbara region of northern WA, which is set to become operational in mid-2028.

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It is the last of the country’s seven planned regional hydrogen hubs to be allocated a total of A$489.2m (US$320m) of taxpayer money under the government’s regional hydrogen hub programme (see below).

The Pilbara Hydrogen Hub “will be a major centre for hydrogen production and export, with the potential to become an international gateway to Australian-made green steel and iron”, the two governments said in a joint press release.

According to the Pilbara Development Commission, a Western Australia government agency, the project “will establish a hydrogen and/or ammonia pipeline between Maitland and Burrup Strategic Industrial areas, a Clean Energy Training and Research Institute to develop the required skills for the emerging industry, port upgrades to enable the import of oversized renewable energy generation equipment like turbine towers and blades and a hub expansion study which will plan for future growth”.

Last month, the Western Australian government awarded land rights to five green hydrogen projects in the Pilbara region — including the 14GW Australian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) being developed by BP, Macquarie, InterContinental Energy and CWP, using 26GW of wind and solar power.

Other recipients included iron-ore billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue group, which is based in the Pilbara, South Korea’s Posco and Australian utility Alinta Energy, although the details of these projects are not clear.

However, none of the Pilbara projects were among the more-than-3.5GW of Australian green hydrogen facilities shortlisted to receive subsidies under the country’s A$2bn Hydrogen Headstart programme last December.

But the 10MW Yuri renewable hydrogen project — developed by French utility Engie, Norwegian fertiliser maker Yara and Japanese bank Mitsui — is due to completed in June this year near Karratha, close to the centre of the Pilbara Hydrogen Hub.

It is the only green hydrogen project to reach final investment decision to date in Western Australia.

Western Australian Premier Roger Cook said the Pilbara Hydrogen Hub “will be WA-produced hydrogen on Asia’s doorstep, helping to strengthen and diversify our economy for the future”.

Chris Bowen, federal minister for climate change and energy, added: “WA is already a global mining and export powerhouse, and it’s now primed to become a world-leading hydrogen supplier as well.”

The Australian government has already allocated A$419.2m (US$274m) to the six other regional hydrogen hubs: