Power-To-Gas Trial For Adelaide

Hydrogen energy storage trail

Australia’s gas network potentially a “bottomless battery” for storing renewables-based hydrogen.

A power-to-gas trial using a new electrolyser will seek to produce cheap hydrogen from splitting water, with the hydrogen then injected into the gas grid.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced yesterday it is providing $5 million in funding to Wollongong-based company AquaHydrex to build a pilot plant at natural gas distributor AGN’s Kidman Park depot in Adelaide.

The trial will assess the commercial viability of using hydrogen gas and existing gas infrastructure for storage of surplus renewables generation and to provide stabilisation of the variable output associated with wind and solar power.

According to ARENA, AGN recently stated the volumetric potential of renewable energy stored in Australian’s gas infrastructure could be as much as the equivalent of 6 billion household lithium-ion batteries. AGN’s Gas Vision 2050 report said new fuels such as hydrogen have the potential to become mainstream and complementary energy solutions utilising existing energy infrastructure.

“Hydrogen in particular fits beautifully with renewables: hydrogen production provides an off-peak revenue stream for wind and solar, enabling greater amounts of renewables onto the system, and using the gas network as a giant battery,” stated AGN’s Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Staniford, in March.

ARENA Chief Executive Ivor Frischknecht said hydrogen can be pumped directly into natural gas network at levels of at least 10 per cent and perhaps up to 30 per cent without any infrastructure or appliance modifications required.

” Depending on the material the gas pipeline is made out of, the network can support up to 100% hydrogen in due course, once appropriate regulatory transition and appliance modifications are implemented,” stated Mr. Frischknecht.

Aquahydrex, a spin out company from the University of Wollongong’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), says as well as domestic use, hydrogen could be an export cash cow for Australia.

” This renewable hydrogen also opens up the possibility to exporting renewable energy – which Australia, with its vast renewable resources, is well positioned to exploit,” said Managing Director Paul Barrett.

Back in May, we mentioned solar-powered technology being developed by CSIRO could see Australia becoming a major exporter of hydrogen in ammonia form.

In other recent solar/hydrogen related news, yesterday we reported Victoria’s Moreland City Council is about to embark on a project transition its diesel-fuelled waste trucks to hydrogen extracted using wind and solar power.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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