The Australian Capital Territory has launched the nation’s first hydrogen testing facility with the goal to understand how green hydrogen produced from excess wind and solar energy can viably be used in existing gas networks. The ‘green’ hydrogen, produced from renewable feedstock, will supplant natural gas.
Evoenergy and the Canberra Institute of Technology are jointly developing the project at CIT Fyshwick, which will test up to 100% hydrogen on existing materials, equipment and work practices in preparation for application to the existing gas distribution network.
The project will be rolled out over the next 12 months in three phases.
The first phase will involve testing Australian network components, construction and maintenance practices on 100% hydrogen application. In the next phase, hydrogen will be tested as a broader energy storage source to support coupling the electricity network to the gas network. Finally, phase three will involve appliance testing, for instance testing hydrogen and mixed gases in existing appliances such as hot water systems.
“This first of its kind facility will allow us to gain a clear understanding of the impact of introducing hydrogen to existing infrastructure. We will be moving one step closer to realising the ability for a viable renewable gas source to be rolled out on a large scale,” said Evoenergy Gas Networks Branch Manager, Will Yeap.
Addressing the launch, ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said that natural gas needs to be phased out as a highly polluting fossil fuel.
“Hydrogen can be a renewable, zero-emissions gas source and we want to understand whether, and how, it can be viably used to decarbonise the gas network,” Rattenbury said.
“The work by Evoenergy and CIT is important for determining if we need to make any modifications or replacements to allow the possible introduction of hydrogen into the natural gas distribution system.”
The testing facility will also be used to train CIT apprentice plumbers in how hydrogen will be distributed and connected to homes, so they are skill-ready for the future.
“The ACT Government will be looking at the results of the test facility closely as it looks to ways to achieve its ambitious target to reach zero net emissions by 2045,” Rattenbury added.
A separate trial was launched earlier this year by gas pipeline owner Jemena to generate hydrogen from renewables and inject it into existing gas network. The two-year project supported by the the Australian Renewable Energy Agency could see homes and businesses in Sydney begin using the fuel within five years.
The potential and economic opportunities of hydrogen produced by solar and wind powered electrolysers have been widely reported and described as Australia’s golden export opportunity.