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Australia backs three 'green' hydrogen projects with more than A$100 mln

MELBOURNE, May 5 (Reuters) - Australia said on Wednesday it had awarded A$103 million ($80 million) to back three ‘green’ hydrogen projects, hiking its planned funding by almost 50% as the government seeks to speed up commercial production of the gas using renewable resources.

All three projects selected by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) plan to use 10 megawatt (MW) electrolysers to split water using renewable energy to produce hydrogen.

The electrolysers, nearly 10 times the size of the largest one in Australia, will be among the biggest in the world.

“Not only will these projects allow for new export opportunities, but they will build up domestic demand so we are able to reduce emissions both here at home and overseas,” Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a statement.

Australia, under Prime Minister Scott Morrison, aims to develop the production and usage of hydrogen to help cut carbon emissions. Morrison has resisted international pressure to reduce Australia’s emission targets under the Paris Agreement, which seeks to curb global warming.

The three projects ARENA chose were from a shortlist of seven. It originally planned to back two projects with A$70 million but increased the amount offered to A$103 million so it could back three.

“Our hydrogen industry in Australia is in its infancy, so the lessons learned from these three projects - and the entire funding round - will be important in driving our future hydrogen economy,” ARENA Chief Executive Darren Miller said.

ARENA awarded funds to France’s Engie SA to use green hydrogen to make ammonia for export from a plant owned by Norway’s Yara International SA in Western Australia.

The two other winning projects, run by Canada’s ATCO and Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), will produce hydrogen to blend with gas in pipelines.

AGIG is owned by units of Hong Kong-based CK Group.

$1 = 1.2915 Australian dollars Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Edmund Blair

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