Western Australia’s McGowan Government has stumped up $1.68 million to support renewable hydrogen feasibility studies across the state.
The money is coming from the State Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Fund, part of WA’s Renewable Hydrogen Strategy that has a goal of setting up Western Australia as a major producer, consumer and exporter.
“Western Australia needs to explore how we can produce, use and provide energy to our international partners through clean and reliable sources – renewable energy via hydrogen provides a means to do this,” said Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan. “This (sic) feasibility studies will facilitate significant private sector investment and leverage financial support for a job-creating renewable hydrogen industry in WA.
Renewable hydrogen – or “green” hydrogen – is based on using electricity generated by sources such as hydro, wind or solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyser. Oddly-named “blue hydrogen” is created using fossil fuels. Perhaps the WA Government’s Strategy document should have used a different shading for the image above.
19 applications for feasibility study funding were submitted, of which seven have been selected. Those to get a guernsey are:
ATCO Australia Pty Ltd – A 10 MW production plant in the Great Southern or Wheatbelt region.
City of Cockburn (Perth) – Solar hydrogen production for waste collection and light vehicles. The City’s study will also look at cogeneration (heat and electricity) opportunities.
DBNGP (WA) Nominees Pty Ltd – Examining the compatibility of the natural gas transmission pipeline in the Pilbara, Mid West, Metro and Peel regions with blended hydrogen.
Energy Developments Limited – Integration of renewable hydrogen production with isolated power stations in the Goldfields-Esperance and Kimberley regions.
Hazer Group Limited – Hydrogen refuelling infrastructure hub in the City of Mandurah and associated transport applications.
Murdoch University – Hybrid solar PV-battery-hydrogen microgrid system for an indigenous community in the Pilbara.
Pacific Hydro Australia Developments Pty Ltd – Production facility near Kununurra utilising existing hydro power generation.
High Hopes For Hydrogen in WA
The McGowan Government sees renewable hydrogen as having the potential to displace the use of fossil fuels in transport, heat and power generation; as well as offering a carbon-neutral feedstock for a wide range of industrial processes and providing energy storage and other services to support electricity grid reliability.
In addition to local applications, the McGowan Government is also hungrily eyeing the export market – as is South Australia.
But perhaps the export – or even local – market won’t be as lucrative as hoped. Some of the optimism is based on a report released by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) back in 2018 forecasting Australian hydrogen exports could contribute $1.7 billion and 2,800 jobs to the national economy by 2030. SQ’s Ronald believes that report was “worse than useless“.
In late November last year, ARENA announced a funding round of up to $70 million to help fast track renewable hydrogen development in Australia.