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Power to Gas (P2G) in Australia

I have written another page on the production and use, and advantages and disadvantages, of hydrogen as a fuel. This page discusses what is happening with sustainable energy and hydrogen in Australia in 2018.

At the time of writing most of the action on renewable-energy-to-gas development was happening in South Australia, but the possibility of producing hydrogen has also been mooted in the huge Asian Renewable Energy Hub proposed in Western Australia's Pilbara region. All the proposals involved using renewably generated electricity to produce hydrogen by hydrolysis.

This page was written 2018/05/02, modified 2018/09/11
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David K. Clarke) – ©
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Wattle Point Wind Farm
Wattle Point WF
Wattle Point is on the end of a long power transmission line with limited capacity at the southern tip of Yorke Peninsula.
It would be a good site for a power-to-hydrogen project.


Renewable energy to hydrogen proposals/developments

In mid 2018 both South Australia and Western Australia were investigating using renewable energy to generate hydrogen, which has many commercial uses and potential uses as explained elsewhere on this site.

South Australia

The projects below were announced under the Whetherill Labor government. The Liberal Marshal government elected in March 2018 has said little or nothing about whether it will support the projects.

Kidman Park, Adelaide

Nick Harmsen posted an article on ABC on-line news on 2017/08/08. It described a trial to convert excess electricity to hydrogen gas using electrolysis to take place in Kidman Park, Adelaide in 2018.

South Australia has more wind power than any other Australian state, but consumes far less electricity than the more populous states. The interconnectors between SA and the eastern states have limited capacity to export excess power when the wind farms are in full production, so there are times when electricity is available at zero price. The trial will look into the practicality of converting some of this excess electricity into hydrogen gas and injecting it into the existing gas distribution network where it will mix with the natural gas. The article stated that there is no problem mixing up to at least 10 percent of hydrogen in natural gas.

Tonsley, Adelaide

Sophie Vorrath wrote a piece for Renew Economy on 2018/02/21.
"South Australia is set to host its second hydrogen production and distribution facility, with the construction of a 1.25MW Siemens electrolyser that will produce hydrogen using electricity from the grid and potentially on-site solar."

"The hydrogen produced by the Tonsley-based power-to-gas demonstration plant – to be known as Hydrogen Park SA (HyP SA) – will be injected into AGIG’s local gas network."
This was announced by the SA Premier the same day as the Kidman Park project.

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Port Lincoln

A renewable energy to hydrogen plants is also proposed for Port Lincoln. It has been reported that this will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

ABC on-line news, Nick Harmson, reported on 2018/02/12 that the facility would be developed by infrastructure company Hydrogen Utility (H2U), it was expected to cost $117.5m, would include a 15 MW electroliser (note that it was later decided to double the size of this) as well as an ammonia production facility, a 10 MW gas turbine and a 5 MW hydrogen fuel cell. Harmson reported that "The company is getting a $4.7 million grant and a $7.5 million loan from the state renewables fund."

Hydrogen Utility chief executive Attilio Pigneri was reported as saying that the project would provide balancing services to the national transmission grid and fast frequency response support to new solar plants under development on the Eyre Peninsula. Dr Pigneri hoped hydrogen could be exported to the Asia-Pacific region.

The Port Lincoln Times also covered the development in an article dated 2018/04/25. The unnamed reporter stated that Dr Pigneri said that "when H2U found out about the resource available on Eyre Peninsula it decided to scale up its facility from a 15 MW electroliser power plant to a 30 MW plant."

Crystal Brook

French company Neoen, it its overview of its proposed Crystal Brook Energy Park in South Australia has also announced its intention of doing at least a feasibility study of a hydrogen electroliser either on-site or at nearby Port Pirie.

Neoen stated on its page announcing the funding of its investigation that

"The proposed 50MW Hydrogen Superhub would be the largest co-located wind, solar, battery and hydrogen production facility in the world, producing up to 25,000kg of hydrogen per day."

A Neoen spokesman has said that it has hopes that the economics of the hydrogen plant will compare favourably with the production of hydrogen by the steam-reforming of methane.

Western Australia

Perth region

Canadian utility ATCO owns the reticulated gas network that spans the most highly populated part of the west coast, from Geraldton to Bunbury. ATCO
"is running a pilot project that aims to unlock different commercial uses for hydrogen. Chief among them is “blending” hydrogen with natural gas to supplement the network.

To achieve this, ATCO would produce the hydrogen using solar power generated at the site, effectively allowing the gas network to be used as a giant battery to store excess renewable energy. The plan would amount to Australia’s first green hydrogen project, which would create the fuel from renewable power sources rather than fossil fuels."
This was reported in The West Australian on 2018/09/04 by Daniel Mercer.

The statement that it would be Australia's first green hydrogen project plainly is far from certain.

Pilbara region

Power to hydrogen has been suggested as a part of the huge Asian Renewable Energy Hub proposed for Western Australia's Pilbara region. This proposal mainly concerns using undersea cables to transmit electric power to Java, Indonesia, and possibly Singapore.




Innovation

The projects above demonstrate the sort of innovation that Australia needs as we change from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

While PM Turnbull puts lipstick on a pig

In early 2018 Liberal PM Turnbull gave $50m of Australian taxpayers' money, and the Labor government of Victoria gave another $50m, to a pilot plant to turn 160 tonnes of Victorian brown coal into 3 tonnes of hydrogen.

The great advantage of hydrogen as a fuel is that when burned nothing but steam is released; but if a huge amount of coal is burned to produce the hydrogen and an even greater amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere it destroys the whole point of the process.

Carbon capture and storage has been mentioned in relationship to PM Turnbull's proposal, but if it was to be used it would make the project, already of questionable competitiveness, entirely economically unviable.

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Related pages

On this site

Australia's energy future

South Australia's energy future

Hydrogen and energy

Pumped hydro energy storage

Who wants renewable energy?

Wind power in Australia

External links

Wikipedia, Power-to-Gas

Renewable Power-to-Gas: A technological and economic review; Manuel Götza, Jonathan Lefebvreb, Friedemann Mörsa, Amy McDaniel Koch, Frank Graf, Siegfried Bajohr, Rainer Reimer, Thomas Kolb; Elsevier Renewable Energy, Volume 85, January 2016.

An article in Renew Economy written by Sophie Vorrath, 2018/09/06 tells of 16 renewable hydrogen projects backed by ARENA grants.

"The push to fast-track Australia’s renewable hydrogen industry continues this week, with $22.1 million in ARENA grant funding extended to 16 different and national research and development projects.

The funding, announced on Thursday, has been offered to research teams from nine Australian universities and organisations including the ANU, Macquarie and Monash Universities, QUT, RMIT, The University of Melbourne, UNSW, the University of WA, and the CSIRO.

The funding, and the number of projects it will support, underscore the rapidly growing interest in renewable hydrogen, as a low-carbon fuel source, a potentially valuable export commodity, and as a form of energy storage."


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