In the Darwin area, the Northern Territory Government is undertaking master-planning of, amongst other things, infrastructure and services to transform the Middle Arm Peninsula of Darwin Harbour into a ‘development ready’ industrial precinct. The planned Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct (‘Precinct’) is proposed across approximately 1,500 hectares of industrial land.
The precinct aims to capitalise on the Territory’s access to extensive (offshore) natural gas resources and abundant solar resources with a focus on low emission hydrocarbons, renewables-based hydrogen, advanced manufacturing, carbon capture and storage, and minerals processing.
Development planning and design for the Precinct may include land clearing, land development (e.g., road, water and power networks, pipeline corridors, etc.), and marine infrastructure (e.g., common user jetties, shipping channel, etc.).
Development of marine infrastructure in particular would support the opening of export opportunities in Northern Australia for commodities such as clean hydrogen and its derivatives.
In 2021, Infrastructure Australia placed the Precinct on the National Infrastructure Priority List.
Infrastructure and services development at the Precinct would support hydrogen-related projects in the Darwin area as well as providing the export platform for inland located projects within the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory Renewable Hydrogen Master Plan indicates the potential for a ‘Renewable Hydrogen Zone’ in the land area encompassing Tenant Creek and Alice Springs.
In June 2023, the Northern Territory Government announced that it has issued ‘not to deal’ commitments to five proponents over specific parcels of land at the Precinct, under which the preferred sites will be set aside for up to 12 months, to provide certainty to interested companies as they develop projects: two of the five proponents are proposing development of hydrogen projects.
No hydrogen-specific federal funding programs have been announced for the Darwin hub area.
As regards hydrogen-hubs eligible programs, in the October 2022 2022-23 federal budget, the Australian Government allocated AUD$1.5 billion funding through an equity approach for shared enabling infrastructure at the Middle Arm Industrial Precinct in partnership with the Northern Territory Government.
The Northern Territory Budget 2023 included (in the 2023-24 Infrastructure Program) AUD$13 million to support detailed design and preliminary works for the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct.
Hydrogen projects in the Northern Territory can be found in HyResource.