The Government of South Australia has selected ATCO and BOC Linde as preferred contractors to build a A$593m ($376m) hydrogen plant and storage facility near Whyalla in the Upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia.

A total of 29 companies were competing for the contract, including billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries. The Canadian company ATCO and Europe’s BOC Linde eventually won, with the Government of South Australia citing their “experience in electrolysers, generators, on-site storage as well as operational expertise”.

The companies will carry out project and engineering design, procurement of essential equipment, finalisation of contracting arrangements and cost estimations.

The project’s operations are set to commence by 2026 and will be owned by South Australian taxpayers. The hydrogen production facility will generate 250MW of power, alongside a hydrogen- fuelled electricity generation facility that will produce 200MW of electricity.

Peter Malinauskas, the Premier of South Australia, said: “This is a world-leading opportunity for South Australia, that has the potential to rival Victoria’s gold rush, the coal boom in Queensland, or Western Australia’s development of iron ore and gas. We have all the things the world will need to decarbonise – abundant copper and magnetite, the world’s best coincident wind and solar resources, world-leading renewable energy penetration and soon, the ability to harness this abundant clean energy in the form of hydrogen.”

Both ATCO and BOC Linde have had operations in South Australia for more than 60 years. ATCO operates the 180MW Osborne Power Station in Adelaide.

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The project forms the base of South Australia’s Hydrogen Jobs Plan which, along with providing a source of renewable hydrogen power, will also create numerous jobs for citizens. South Australia aims to produce 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.