29 May 2023
By Miles Kemp
South Australia has been told it will not be allowed any additional water from the River Murray to produce Hydrogen at Whyalla.
The State Government revealed for the first time last week that rather than using green desalinated water, River Murray water could part-supply the $593 million plant.
The revelation about scarce River Murray water was made to SA parliament last week, under questioning, by ceo of the SA Office of Hydrogen, Sam Crafter.
The Opposition was quick to seize on the revelation, questioning the “green” credentials the government has spruiked, which was to have relied on green desalinated water from an another yet-to-be-built project in the local area.
But at a Senate estimates hearing the Murray Darling Basin Authority said SA must stick to the current allowed Sustainable Diversion Limits.
MDBA chair Andrew McConville told the committee: “It is a task for South Australia that whatever they undertake fits within the sustainable diversion limits framework”.
“I imagine at some point SA would consult with us,’’ he said.
“An annual review is undertaken by the MDBA so that is the review point and there is a requirement under the basin plan so that is the requirement of consultation.”
A major selling point for the Hydrogen electricity plan in Whyalla is the ability of the region to create “green steel”, from the electricity created by burning hydrogen at the plant.
Hydrogen is created by splitting atoms of water H2O, into hydrogen and oxygen.
After questioning the MDBA in the hearing Senator for South Australia Andrew McLachlan said the government must spell out the River Murray plan.
“The South Australian State Government is responsible to ensure that any water usage in relation to this project comes from within South Australia’s current sustainable diversion limits,’’ he said.
“This means that the State Government may be required to purchase more water or divert precious water from the environment, irrigators and local industries.
“The South Australian Government must be open and transparent about where this water is going to come from each year, especially if we enter into a dry environmental cycle.
“River communities and the environment that sustains them must not be placed under any greater stress because of this project.”
When put to the state government, a spokesman said: “Similar to more customers accessing River Murray water such as through an urban or industrial development, SA Water can supply from the existing allocation.
“SA Water’s country license allows it to extract 50GL under normal conditions.
“They’re currently extracting 42GL.”
One gigalitre is one billion litres of water.View source