Green hydrogen has been flagged as a future clean energy export, and a New South Wales distributor is set to test the technology on the domestic front.
A $15 million trial will use hydrogen generated by renewables to power household heating and other appliances through the natural gas grid.
The project will run over five years and has the catchy name of H2GO. It will see gas distributor Jemena build a 500kW demonstration plant using electricity from sources such as wind and solar to convert water into hydrogen for storage in Sydney’s natural gas grid. This process is known as ‘power-to-gas’.
According to the project description, the plant will provide enough energy to run heating and hot water for around 250 homes and is expected to be operational by 2020.
The trial’s aims are twofold: to overcome hurdles to storing excess renewable energy as hydrogen in existing gas infrastructure, and to reduce emissions from natural gas.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has contributed $7.5 million to the project.
As well as storing hydrogen in the gas network, Jemena will run a hydrogen gas engine generator to return energy to the electricity grid, and store the remaining gas in an onsite refuelling station for hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.
The announcement follows ARENA’s August release of a report detailing Australia’s “golden opportunity” to become an exporter of clean hydrogen to markets such as Japan and Korea, who are keen to reduce their emissions.
With the right conditions, Australian hydrogen exports could contribute $1.7 billion per annum to the economy and provide 2,800 jobs by 2030,” the report stated.