By Peter Milne|
October 30, 2021

Mark McGowan should be red-faced after greenwashing Woodside’s hydrogen plan

In summary:

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced on Monday that Woodside may build a $1 billion gas plant in Kwinana south of Perth – without mentioning the word gas. The reality is that Woodside is considering building a hydrogen plant in Kwinana, dubbed PerthH2, that will be two-thirds gas-fuelled, but the company will not make a final decision until 2024.

For Woodside to produce blue hydrogen at Kwinana it would need to deal with emissions when the gas is produced offshore, more emissions to pump it south, emissions from the power to drive the plant, the carbon dioxide given off when hydrogen is extracted from the gas, and ironically, emissions from the equipment required to capture the carbon dioxide.

Realistically, all these streams of greenhouse gases cannot be captured. However, as a minimum, the large volume of carbon dioxide from the chemical separation of hydrogen from gas that is the easiest to capture should be stored. Woodside does not plan to capture any emissions from its gas plant, instead it will buy carbon offsets, such as paying for trees to be planted that will absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

The Conservation Council of WA criticised PerthH2 as carbon-intensive and a “greenwashing exercise for Woodside”. Mr McGowan said he thought the CCWA response was “pretty weak” as Woodside was using renewable energy and “any other forms of energy are being offset.”

“Any other forms of energy?” It is called gas, Mr Premier.