21/02/2020 | Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP | Better Services | Lower Costs

The Marshall Government’s transformation of South Australia’s energy system takes another significant step forward today with the establishment of the Australian Hydrogen Centre.

The innovative Centre is another exciting step in the rapid development of hydrogen as a greenhouse gas free fuel of the future with South Australia at centre of this vital innovation.

Launched today at Tonsley Innovation District by the Honourable Angus Taylor MP, Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, the Australian Hydrogen Centre will have more than $4 million in Government funding, industry cash and in-kind contributions.

The Centre will be led by Australian Gas Network (AGN) in collaboration with founding members Neoen, AusNet Services and ENGIE and has secures $1.28 million from ARENA, $120,000 from the South Australian Government and $500,000 from the Victorian Government.

South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan welcomed the co-investment from the Federal and Victorian Governments and commended the leadership shown by AGN and its partners.

“The Australian Hydrogen Centre’s ambitious research will explore the pathways required to decarbonise the South Australian and Victorian gas distribution networks by identifying methods to scale up renewable hydrogen production and consumption,” said Minister van Holst Pellekaan.

The Australian Hydrogen Centre will build on the learnings from AGN’s Hydrogen Park SA project, which is anticipated to deliver cleaner gas to more than 700 customers in Mitchell Park from mid-2020 - at no additional cost to residents.

Further, the Australian Hydrogen Centre will undertake feasibility studies into blending 10% and 100% hydrogen into city and regional gas networks in South Australia and Victoria as a key step towards the greater use of hydrogen in gas distribution networks.

The construction of Hydrogen Park SA is supported by a $4.9 million grant from the South Australian Government, and will comprise of a 1.25MW Siemens proton exchange membrane electrolyser, the largest of its kind in Australia.

The hydrogen will be produced onsite, using renewable electricity to split water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen by a process called electrolysis.

Minister van Holst Pellekaan said the hydrogen will be blended with natural gas and supplied to nearby homes and businesses via the existing gas network, with potential also to supply 100% hydrogen to industrial users via tube trailers (long storage tubes on the back of semi-trailers).

“A 5% hydrogen blend is the first important step to reducing gas related emissions, and will help accelerate renewable hydrogen into the South Australian economy,” said Minister van Holst Pellekaan.

“The aim of the funding is to support large scale deployments of renewable hydrogen projects and bring costs down to help to make the technology commercially viable.

“The development of new energy technologies is at a tipping point, and renewable hydrogen will soon provide a much needed carbon-free fuel for our domestic and export markets.

“Producing a clean burning gas like renewable hydrogen supports South Australia’s intention to be net-zero emissions from electricity generation by 2030’s and net-zero emissions across the state by 2050,” said Minister van Holst Pellekaan.

The South Australian Government’s support for the Centre forms part of South Australia’s Hydrogen Action Plan, released in September last year.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the natural gas network could be a key piece of infrastructure to support decarbonisation of the national energy system.

“The network has the potential to be used for the long-term storage of renewably produced hydrogen and limit the need for electrification alternatives, which can be costly.

“The development of a local hydrogen sector will underpin the investment in technology and skills to support the long term export opportunity. These studies will go a long way to identifying the possibility of using and storing hydrogen in local gas networks.”

“AGN, as part of Australia’s broader energy industry, has commenced the new decade with a strategy that aims to deliver substantial, measurable and world-leading outcomes in minimising the current and future carbon footprint across the whole of our national gas distribution business.

“This public licence also requires total transparency so the studies will provide guidance as to both the best solution to deliver renewable gas into our networks while ensuring full engagement with all stakeholders and consumers about this step-change in Australian energy delivery.

“The 2020s will be an exciting time for the energy industry and consumers. ARENA’s foresight in backing the strategy for a roll-out of more renewably sourced gas in these two key major markets, is to be commended.”