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The world’s largest coal port has switched to renewable energy

Following the approval of a new arrangement between the Australian arm of Spanish energy corporation Iberdrola, Australia and the Port of Newcastle the world’s largest coal seaport is currently powered entirely by renewable energy.

The Port of Newcastle in Australia has established itself as a pioneer in the renewable energy transition, with its operations being wholly powered by renewable energy. Newcastle has agreed to a retail PPA (power purchase agreement) with Iberdrola that would give the port large-scale generating certificates (LGCs) related to 113 MW Bodangora wind facility near Dubbo, NSW (New South Wales).

The decision, according to Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody, is part of a goal to decarbonize the firm by 2040 and fulfills 2020 sustainability targets. “By attaining 100% renewable energy at the Port of Newcastle, we are demonstrating our commitment to advancing sustainability in every element of our business,” he said. “The Port of Newcastle’s 100% renewable power arrangement directly facilitates the growth of renewable infrastructure and is going to result in major environmental enhancements at the port.”

The Newcastle Port is the biggest port on Australia’s east coast, with roughly 4,400 ship movements every year. It is also the world’s largest coal port, shipping an average of about 165 megatons of coal per year. According to Carmody, the port has decreased carbon emissions by about 5,000 cubic tons by transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy, that is equivalent to removing 1,000 automobiles from the road or growing 80,000 trees every year.

The renewables milestone comes after the ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) announced a $2.2 million feasibility study for the building of a 40 MW green hydrogen hub at Newcastle’s Port. The study, which will be managed by the Port of Newcastle as well as Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and partially sponsored by ARENA, will decide whether the project has adequate potential.

The study will also look into the possibility of expanding green hydrogen production for purpose of export, taking advantage of the port’s existing local and international supply chain connections. While the project’s first stage is supported by a 40 MW electrolyzer, this study will also evaluate a potential staged increase of an electrolyzer to roughly 1 GW, capable of producing a maximum of 150,000 tons of the green hydrogen each year for both the domestic and export usage.

“The Port of Newcastle is focusing on projects right now that will drive our company and the Hunter Region’s diversification over the next 10, or 20, or 50 years and beyond,” Carmody said. “We are committed to ongoing progress in line with our ESG Strategy and carbon emission decrease targets, and we are excited to see what we can accomplish in 2022.”

The Port of Newcastle’s renewable power agreement is Iberdrola’s second PPA for Bodangora Wind Farm. Energy Australia has already signed a Power Purchase Agreement for electricity as well as LGCs for 60 percent of the facility’s electricity generation until December 31, 2030, according to the company.

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