According to The Australian Financial Review, ABEL Energy has sent out its bankers to find fresh backers, just as it gets cracking on its much-talked-about $1.7 billion Bell Bay Powerfuels project.
The Bell Bay Powerfuels project wants to ship 300,000 tonnes of “green” methanol production annually, starting in 2028. The three-part process uses renewable energy to produce hydrogen via electrolysis, while forestry residues are processed via gasification to generate syngas. Putting the two together produces methanol.
Prospective bidders have been told to register expressions of interest by March 8 to receive an info pack. The sell-side advisers will collect non-binding offers in mid-April, and final bids would be due six weeks later, at the end of May. ABEL is hoping to have a deal signed by the end of the financial year.
According to The AuManufaturing, the South Australian government and the private sector have funded studies, planning and negotiations to lead to a final investment decision on the Northern Water project servicing BHP’s copper mines and refineries and the burgeoning green hydrogen and steel industries.
If progressed, Northern Water would see construction of a 260 megalitre a day desalination plant on the Eyre Peninsula, and a 600-kilometre pipeline to transport desalinated water to the Far North.
A comprehensive business case has found the project has the potential to generate more than $5 billion in annual economic benefit and 4,000 ongoing jobs by facilitating development of industries including copper, hydrogen and green iron, along with defence, pastoral, and community uses.
According to The Australian Financial Review, Japan has laid down a $US1.4 billion ($2.1 billion) vote of confidence in Australian gas by taking a big slice of Woodside Energy’s Scarborough project in Western Australia, underscoring Asia’s appetite for supply of the fossil fuel for decades to come.
The deal by JERA, Japan’s largest importer of LNG, to acquire a 15.1 per cent stake in the Scarborough development comes six months after Japan LNG agreed to buy a 10 per cent stake in a $US880 million deal.
The two deals, worth $3.5 billion in total, bring four major Japanese players – Tokyo Electric Power, Chubu Electric Power, Sojitz and Sumitomo – into Australia’s biggest resource project, a $16.5 billion development beset by legal challenges and environmental protests.
According to The Australian Financial Review, the Queensland government has named the first five venture capital firms to receive a share of a new $130 million fund that will invest in the state’s start-ups.
More than 85 VC firms and accelerators put their hand out for the cash from the Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund (QVCDF). It was originally established as a $75 million fund, but the Queensland government tipped in a further $55 million because of the strong demand for capital.
According to The Australian Financial Review, the Albanese government is planning a “think big” multibillion-dollar initiative to try to compete with the United States’ $624 billion Inflation Reduction Act and similar schemes elsewhere, in a bid to drive the domestic development of clean energy technology.
The scheme, which sources said is likely to be a combination of subsidies and co-investment, will aim to stem the flow of capital to the US, where President Joe Biden’s IRA is acting as a magnet.
The government already has several initiatives in play but has been under pressure to do more, including from Squadron Energy’s Andrew Forrest, who is seeking government support to develop the commercially viable production of green hydrogen.
He has argued previously that Australia should join forces with the likes of Japan and Germany to help counter the pull of the IRA.
According to The Australian Financial Review, BHP, Rio Tinto and BlueScope have joined an Australian-first collaboration aimed at fast-tracking the path to nearly carbon-free production by steel makers relying on Australia’s No.1 export, iron ore.
Under the initiative, the three companies aim to develop a pilot plant that will prove production of molten iron from West Australian ores is feasible using renewable power in direct reduced iron process technology, and in doing so, future-proof the Pilbara.
The project aims to head off the risk that iron ore from the Pilbara, which is lower grade than ores suitable for other, more advanced, green iron and steel technologies become increasingly discounted or face declining demand as importers strive to meet net zero emissions targets.
Several locations across Australia will be assessed for the proposed plant, including BlueScope’s Port Kembla steel mill, where the companies announced the initiative on Friday. Pre-feasibility work should be completed by the year-end, and the pilot plant – expected to cost hundreds of millions – could come into operation as early as 2027, if approved.
According to The Australian Financial Review, the transition to hydrogen/ammonia is not easy. The biggest challenge is its high cost. This is why Japan has announced its plan to introduce legislation, the Hydrogen Promotion Act, to provide a framework to offset the cost differential between hydrogen and conventional energies for 15 years through supported projects.
The Japanese government has also announced a plan to allocate 3 trillion yen, about $30 billion, to promote hydrogen. Japan is committed to developing the initial market with strong policy support. This framework will be applicable to both domestically produced hydrogen and imported hydrogen.
Australia has the potential to become a major supplier of hydrogen to Japan. The continent is endowed with rich renewable energies, as well as abundant fossil fuels, both of which can be used to produce hydrogen.
Recently, uncertainties have come to the fore. Large-scale projects are now held back by the need for permits and opposition from local stakeholders. As hydrogen projects are large-scale and expensive, the perceived risk of delays is not helpful. Changes in policies have affected existing and ongoing energy projects in Australia. While Japanese players are not opposed to those policy changes per se, due respect to the legitimate interests of the investors who have made long and substantial commitments could be better honoured.
According to The Australian Financial Review, Greenhill Energy, a business aiming to construct a $425 million waste-to-hydrogen plant in rural South Australia, is preparing for a capital raising to advance the project which will also produce fertiliser and synthetic fuels.
Managing director Nicholas Mumford, a former executive with Santos, said the group had successfully completed trials in Europe of the gasification process, and was heading into the next stage of the Riverbend Energy Hub project.
Mr Mumford is one of the shareholders in the project which aims to be up and running with its first stage by 2025 operating a facility capable of processing up to 60,000 tonnes of biomass and landfill waste.
According to The Australian Financial Review, Australia’s largest semiconductor maker, Morse Micro, has spent more than $80 million over the last two years preparing to scale up the production of its chips, as the Sydney-based start-up eyes its first big sales.
Morse Micro was founded in 2016 by two former employees of US-based semiconductor giant Broadcom, Andrew Terry and Michael De Nil, who have focused on developing chips that provide a robust and reliable Wi-Fi connection over a long range.
The heavily backed company has manufactured more than 2 million chips in its Singapore facility since it began mass production of its energy-efficient, long-range Wi-Fi HaLow chips in August.
After seven years of research and development, chief executive Michael de Nil said Morse Micro aimed to produce “hundreds of millions of chips” in the next few years.
According to The Australian Financial Review, the Albanese government will supercharge its struggling 82 per cent clean energy goal by dramatically expanding its underwriting of green generation and storage, effectively replacing the Renewable Energy Target favoured by some wind and solar proponents.
In a major overhaul triggered by growing fears of grid instability as coal and gas exits the system, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen will present state and territory counterparts with an expanded “Capacity Investment Scheme” at a meeting.
The shake-up, which specifically excludes support for gas projects, aims to accelerate investment in wind, solar and batteries by giving proponents certainty over their revenues.
In an effort to unlock regulatory bottlenecks, it also contains incentives for states and territories who streamline approval processes by dangling a greater share of six-monthly “capacity auctions”.
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