Jemena gearing up to make NSW gas network greener in five-year trial

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Gas pipeline owner Jemena has announced the purchase of New South Wales’ first electrolyzer, marking a step forward in greening of the state’s gas network. In one of Australia’s biggest trials to generate hydrogen from renewables and inject it into existing gas network, homes and businesses in Sydney could begin using the fuel within five years.

The 500kw electrolyser developed in Belgium and Canada by Hydrogenics, and brought to Australia by renewable energy systems specialists ANT Energy Solutions, will be located in Western Sydney. The technology will utilise solar and wind power to create carbon-neutral hydrogen gas to be stored in the Jemena Gas Network – the largest in Australia.

“We are making a significant investment in technology to demonstrate the network is ready to deliver clean, safe and sustainable green gas to customers,” said Gabrielle Sycamore, Jemena’s General Manager, Strategy and Commercial. “New South Wales’ first electrolyser will ensure we can develop processes to store renewably generated energy in existing network infrastructure for use when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.”

The electrolyser will drive Jemena’s Western Sydney Green Gas Project, a $15 million trial, co-funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to the tune of $7.5 million. The project aims to demonstrate the co-mingling, storage and distribution of hydrogen and natural gas in the existing network which, as Jemena puts it, has the capacity to store the equivalent of 8 million Powerwall batteries.

“Gas is vital to many Australian companies and communities including the $196 billion mining and manufacturing industry and more than 6.5 million homes. Customers are increasingly looking for sustainable energy solutions and Jemena believes renewable gases such as hydrogen and biomethane can play an important role in meeting the NSW Government’s objective of net zero emissions by 2050,” said Sycamore.

While the majority of the hydrogen produced in the trial will be injected in the local gas network for domestic use providing on-demand energy, a portion will be utilized via a gas engine generator for electricity generation back into the grid with the remaining stored for use in an onsite Hydrogen Refueling Station for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Presently, Jemena is working with councils, partners and stakeholders to ensure public and private transport fleets can access hydrogen to make this happen.

As momentum builds across the globe to advance hydrogen, Australia is among the countries most favourably placed to turn hydrogen hype into real-world deployment. The Council of Australian Governments recently released consultation papers on a national hydrogen strategy, mooted as the roadmap to a potential $1.7 billion export industry, and is now seeking submissions from the industry and community.

On a state level, the Queensland government has launched a $19 million sustainable hydrogen strategy and open funding for new projects. Meanwhile, Western Australia has launched a renewable hydrogen strategy, announced the creation of a $10 million green hydrogen fund and started injecting green hydrogen into gas pipelines.

Recently unveiled by Canadian-owned gas network operator ATCO, the $3.6 million Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Jandakot is tasked with testing the use of hydrogen in different settings and applications including in household appliances. On top of that, the project backed by $1.5 million in funding from ARENA will provide insights into optimizing hydrogen storage and distribution solutions, blending hydrogen with natural gas and using hydrogen as a balancing fuel to support the grid.