The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has received grant requests from A$3bn ($2.1bn) projects to construct the first commercial-scale renewable hydrogen projects in the country.

Following the launch of A$70m ($48.7m) renewable hydrogen deployment funding initiative in April 2020, ARENA has received expressions of interest from 36 bidders in the initial application stage.

The projects, which were submitted for funding, range between 5MW and 80MW and relate to nearly 500MW of total electrolysis capacity.

ARENA to distribute funds by the end of 2020

ARENA said it would invite shortlisted projects to file a full application following assessing the proposals. The funds are planned to be distributed by the end of 2020.

The selected projects are also expected to be considered for further financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) under the $300m ($209m) Advancing Hydrogen Fund.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “We’re excited to see that there is such strong interest in renewable hydrogen from across a broad cross section of industry.

“This is an important step for the sector and it looks like we have many companies now ready to start building large scale renewable hydrogen projects across a range of industries and end uses.”

ARENA said that the funding round would support the development of two or more large scale renewable hydrogen projects, with electrolysers of a minimum 5MW capacity and with a preference for the installations of at least 10MW capacity.

The initiative aims to facilitate cost reductions in renewable hydrogen production to achieve the ‘H2 under $2’ (Hydrogen at or under $2/kg) goal.

Miller added: “While we’re only at the early stages of renewable hydrogen production in Australia, much like our role in making large scale solar competitive, ARENA aims to help bring down the cost of hydrogen, build Australia’s skills and capacity, create jobs and activity in regional areas and help Australia achieve our emissions reduction objectives.”