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Green hydrogen scaling to a major fuel source

17 June 2022
Jack Baker

Professor Zhenguo Huang is leading groundbreaking work on critical aspects of the hydrogen economy. Huang, leading a team of energy and economy experts looking into aspects of hydrogen economy at the University of Technology Sydney, says global powerbrokers increasingly see hydrogen as the clean-running fuel to alleviate a crisis of cost and climate.

He argues the critical mass to make hydrogen economic across a broad section of industries is close.

“Producing hydrogen via splitting water by electricity is not cheap, but you have excess electricity from solar and wind during the day,” Huang says.

“For excess electricity, you dump it or use it to produce hydrogen –this is one of the arguments for green hydrogen. You can have relatively low cost, but the scale is still too low–we do not have tonnes of excess available.”

The International Energy Agency suggests economically produced hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier with applications including long-haul transport, chemicals, iron and steel, where it is proven difficult to reduce emissions.

The Albanese government has promised up to $3 billion from Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund to invest in clean energy, including hydrogen electrolysers and fuel switching.

In the last three years, successive governments have come with lots of money to make green hydrogen competitive in Australia,” Huang says.

Perth company Infinity Green Energy is moving ahead of the curve on green hydrogen plants in Western Australia.

The company aims to be a zero-carbon commercial green hydrogen producer, the first of its kind in Australia. The first stage of its liquid hydrogen plans will be the Arrowsmith Project, located in the Mid-West town of Dongara in Western Australia.

This installation will commence production in late 2025, resulting in 23 tons (23,000 kg) of green hydrogen per day from the zero-carbon energy sources of water, solar, and wind.

Closer to Perth, IGE is developing the MNEG HP1 Early Production System, which will produce hydrogen from the renewable-powered plant in Northam for the domestic market by 2024.

IGE chief executive Stephen Gauld says the state offers geographical advantages conducive to the nascent industry.

“Some of the world’s best solar and wind generating conditions make WA highly likely to become one of the world’s most cost-competitive renewable hydrogen destinations,” he says.

“But perhaps even more importantly, the WA Government has been willing to facilitate and support the development of a renewable hydrogen industry.

“Our plant in Northam will provide some of the earliest commercial-scale renewable hydrogen production in Western Australia.

“It will be closely followed by our Arrowsmith Hydrogen Plant, which includes a sensible and progressive expansion pathway — through to at least a gigawatt of renewable hydrogen production to support export.”

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