The next chapter of low carbon agriculture has begun with an integrated solar energy operation that will produce hydrogen and ammonia set to be installed at one of Australia's largest cotton producing properties, Keytah, near Moree.
The Good Earth Green Hydrogen and Ammonia (GEGHA) project has commenced and when completed will see a 27 megawatt solar farm constructed at Wathagar Gin.
Developed in partnership by Hiringa Energy and Sundown Pastoral Co, GEGHA aims to help local farmers by producing low emission fertiliser and fuel.
The pilot project has received almost $36 million in funding from the NSW government's hydrogen hub initiative.
The solar farm will produce about 45,000 megaWatt hours of energy a year which will generate energy for Wathagar's seasonal ginning operations and the creation of hydrogen and ammonia to displace diesel, LPG and alternative nitrogen based fertilisers.
GEGHA is estimated to produce more than 936 tonnes of green hydrogen a year to displace as much as 1.4 million litres of imported diesel. A further 3800 megatonnes of anhydrous ammonia will displace 6800MT of imported urea.
The anhydrous ammonia will be used for fertiliser at Keytah and other local farms with diesel and LPG set to be replaced in stationary motors, mobile farming plants and the drying of raw cotton.
Owner of Sundown Pastoral Co, David Statham said the cotton industry can be part of the climate change solution.
"If it is done properly and measured we can do something about our emissions," he said.
"Currently I'm buying urea out of the Middle East which is produced as a by-product of the petroleum industry and has a large greenhouse gas emission.
"There are large emissions associated with creating urea, it doesn't matter how you do it, however with renewable energy there is zero emissions even in the manufacturing process."
Mr Statham said Europe's demand for supply chain visibility through their carbon border adjustment mechanism has also pushed him to seek a more sustainable avenue.
"The two biggest things on our carbon emissions is our fuel and fertilisers and this project eliminates that," he said.
"By 2025, European brands must have a carbon score on the garments otherwise they have to pay a carbon tax."
According to Hiringa Energy, at full capacity the project will abate more than 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Under the NSW government's grant application process, the project must be in production by 2025.
If the project proves successful at Keytah, a regional expansion is on the cards with a further two green hydrogen and ammonia facilities envisioned at the Moree Special Activation Precinct and in the Riverina region.
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