Hiringa Energy launches green hydrogen project for agriculture

In News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 10, 2023

GEGHA Team: David & Danielle Statham (Sundown Pastoral), David Heard, Cathy & Andrew Clennett (Hiringa Energy)

Hiringa Energy has partnered with Sundown Pastoral Co to introduce the next chapter of low-carbon, sustainable agriculture.

The Good Earth Green Hydrogen and Ammonia (GEGHA) project will see an integrated solar energy to  hydrogen and ammonia operation implemented at the Wathagar ginning facility, on the ‘Keytah’ agricultural property, near Moree in northern New South Wales – the world’s first Good Earth Cotton farm, producing climate positive and traceable cotton.

Hiringa Energy will act as the project developer, joint owner and operator. The GEGHA project will provide a long-term sustainable pathway for multiple hard-to abate agricultural and logistics activities in the Moree area, including ammonia-based fertiliser, on farm energy use and the transportation of agricultural goods to export markets.

GEGHA demonstrates  the opportunity for a more secure, localised and low-carbon supply chain for replacement of emissions-intensive imported fertilizer, diesel and LPG used in the agricultural and transport sector in  NSW and more broadly.

By supplying low-carbon hydrogen for refuelling of heavy road transport at sites in the Moree region through the specialist expertise of Hiringa Energy, the GEGHA project has the potential to stimulate  growth of the hydrogen transportation sector locally and throughout NSW. This would provide a  broad range of agricultural producers with the opportunity to decarbonise the transport-related emissions as they move their crops to increasingly attractive global markets for lower-carbon food  and fibre.

The GEGHA project will involve the installation of the 27 MW Wathagar Solar Farm, providing energy  for the seasonal ginning operations, feeding excess electricity into the grid, and creating hydrogen  and ammonia to displace diesel, LPG and alternative nitrogen-based fertilizers. The project is being carried out in stages, with the near-complete 9 MW first stage to be followed by two more 9 MW modules.

The GEGHA project leverages the Kanowna Solar Farm, which has been operational and connected to  the National Electricity Market since 2019. The proven design and demonstrated operational  capability of that facility goes a long way to de-risking the project and condensing timeframes for  achieving measurable results, as the general design of the Kanowna Solar Farm is being replicated at  the Wathagar Solar Farm.

Some of the hydrogen is converted to anhydrous ammonia (NH3) for on-farm fertiliser use at ‘Keytah’ and other regional properties, and the balance will be utilised in multiple applications to displace diesel and LPG in stationary motors, mobile farming plant, and the drying of raw cotton.

GEGHA intends to produce about 45,000 MWh of energy per annum (equivalent to powering over  4,000 homes), making 3,800 MT of anhydrous ammonia to displace the equivalent of 6,800 MT of imported urea, as well as enough low-carbon hydrogen to displace more than 1.4 million litres of  imported diesel.

The project is estimated to directly abate around 20,000 tonnes of CO2 per year at full capacity, assuming direct substitution of existing emissions-intensive urea and anhydrous ammonia fertilizer,  diesel and LPG. There are substantial additional indirect abatement and safety benefits associated with  reduced shipping and heavy vehicle movements required to bring fertiliser and diesel across the  world to coastal import facilities, then unload, store, reload and truck them hundreds of kilometres inland to Moree.

“We have been seeking to transfer our hard-won hydrogen industry experience to the rapidly  developing Australian hydrogen market, and are very pleased to have found such a suitable partner in  Sundown Pastoral,” said Andrew Clennett, Chief Executive of Hiringa Energy.

“As developer, project manager and operator of the GEGHA project, we look  forward to proving the technical and commercial model at GEGHA, and investing further both in  downstream refuelling facilities, and scaled-up low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia hubs in the  coming years.”