WA in renewable purgatory with would-be Oakajee hydrogen hub still barren

WA Liberal Leader and Shadow Minister for State Development and Energy, Dr David Honey, yesterday questioned Minister Roger Cook in Budget Estimates on the continued lack of action on developing the Oakajee Hydrogen Hub.
Dr Honey said the Oakajee site in WA’s mid-west near Geraldton has massive potential as one of the premium renewable energy precincts in the world. Major companies are very keen to develop projects at Oakajee because of its proximity to high-quality renewable energy and also because of its attractiveness as an area where people want to live and work. The nearby coastal City of Geraldton is an extremely attractive family location for people who will work in the new industries. This will make it much easier to attract skilled workers.
“We’ve seen renewable innovators like Dr Andrew Forrest driven away to the Eastern States and overseas with their world-class multi-billion-dollar hydrogen-based renewable projects on account of the McGowan Labor
Government’s ‘dithering’ on this issue.
“What we need to see is the Premier, Labor’s State Development Minister Cook and Labor Hydrogen Industry Minister Alannah MacTiernan drive the charge for investors to view Western Australia as a compelling location
in the renewables race, rather than driving them away from our State.
“For example, Hydrogen Minister MacTiernan this week made a vague announcement to lure the makers of electrolysers – vital equipment to make green hydrogen – to WA with taxpayers’ money.
“This has come a year after Dr Andrew Forrest bypassed WA to build Australia’s first electrolyser factory in Gladstone, Qld in a vote of no confidence due to this Labor Government’s failure to provide the necessary industrial land to make this critical hydrogen project a reality in WA,” said Dr Honey. “The facility being built in Queensland is massive – doubling the global supply of electrolysers!”
During questioning in Parliament yesterday, Dr Honey outlined Labor’s total lack of any progress in providing any enabling infrastructure, port or other such common-user infrastructure.
“So far, the only part of Oakajee that is committed to by the McGowan Labor Government is the entrance road into what is effectively an overgrown paddock. A very fitting metaphor for Labor’s lack of commitment to renewables: ‘a road to nowhere’.
“I raised renewables, the mid-west and Oakajee in the last State Election, in last year’s State budget, again last November and now in Budget Estimates but under Labor nothing has changed.
“Minister Cook confirmed there were 65 submissions received between September and December 2020 from across the globe.
“We already know that there is world-wide investor interest in WA’s hydrogen future. However, we won’t see projects eventuate unless suitable land and enabling infrastructure is established – port access, roads, water, communications, electricity grid connection and the like. Whilst Oakajee is a premium renewable energy precinct, this is a competitive field globally. Companies will go where they feel most welcome and, especially, where they can minimise up-front capital expenditure. They can’t afford to add hundreds of millions of dollars to their investment to fund the enabling infrastructure.
“The McGowan Labor Government needs to provide renewables-user-ready industrial land and not an empty paddock. They have allocated billions of dollars to a new Port at Kwinana which isn’t actually required until around 2040. Meanwhile, they are ignoring the critical investment required right now to create new industries and thousands of new jobs in the mid-west in renewable energy.
“Western Australia should be leading the world in hydrogen, building on our already world-renowned energy industry. Instead, under WA Labor we are trailing the other States,” said Dr Honey.