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Hydrogen Hub funding rules not so sweet for Hunter biomass start-up Sweetman Renewables

The NSW Government has ruled out funding hydrogen production companies if they use native forest biomass at any stage of production. [1] 

The guidelines for grants under the government’s $70 million Hydrogen Hub Initiative will be a blow to Hunter-based sawmiller and clean-energy wannabe Sweetman Renewables. 

Sweetman had hoped to use native forests as feedstock for electricity generation and hydrogen and biochar production and has suggested to potential investors it may be eligible for a slice of the $70 million on offer. [2]  

“The government has made the right call by excluding enterprises that use native forests biomass from these grants,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.  

“There is nothing green about shredding forests for energy, whether it’s to produce hydrogen or fuel a converted coal-fired power station like Redbank at Singleton. 

“That’s why we call on the government to ban the use of forest biomass for all energy projects as well as the export of woodchips to fuel power stations overseas. 

“Hopefully the government’s Hydrogen Hub Initiative funding guidelines will knock over the Sweetman proposal on economic grounds. 

“Many hydrogen start-ups will struggle to get up and running without government assistance because of high establishment costs and the high costs of producing hydrogen relative to other fuel sources, at least until production gets to scale. 

“The conservation movement is determined to protect the few healthy native forests we have left in NSW and are staunchly opposed to woodchip exports and the burning of native forest under any circumstances. 

“Sweetman Renewables is a clear and present threat to our native forests as it still has plans to feed hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wood into the Redbank power station and export 60,000 tonnes woodchips to Japan every year. 

“This battle is not over by a long shot.” 

 

REFERENCES  

[1] Hydrogen hub initiative guidelines, NSW Department of Planning, Industry a Environment, October 2021. Page 6. “Hydrogen projects will not be eligible for funding if any input (including electricity or feedstock) is derived using biomass from native forests.” 

[2] Sweetman positions to capitalise on green energy revolution with landmark supply, offtake deals, Stockhead, 4-11-21  

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