Horizon Power looks at green hydrogen for WA coastal town of Denham

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The coastal town on Denham could be on the way to become zero emissions thanks to a green hydrogen demonstration project proposed by WA’s regional utility Horizon Power. The hydrogen plant powered by solar energy will supplement existing wind turbines, which already produce 60% of the town’s electricity.

Located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Denham’s existing power supply is a combination of a Horizon Power owned and operated diesel facility, and a Synergy wind farm. Both assets are aging and in need of replacement.

Horizon Power has sought expressions of interest from companies for the supply of the hydrogen electrolyser and fuel cell and to design and construct of the plant. It is also looking at state and federal funding for the trial, while supporting the State Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Strategy by investigating the possibility of demonstrating the use of hydrogen as a future source of energy for the town.

“As part of our commitment to deliver cleaner, greener energy to our regional customers, we want to investigate the potential to develop a hydrogen demonstration plant to test the suitability and capability of hydrogen as a renewable energy source for electricity generation in the future,” Horizon Power Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Unwin said.

If the project is determined to be viable, construction would begin in February 2021. “Proving the reliability of such a hydrogen plant provides the opportunity to expand the plant to supply the full power requirements for the town in the future,” Urwin added.

Last year, the WA Government launched a strategy to set course for the state’s renewable hydrogen future with a focus on four strategic investment areas: export, use of renewable hydrogen in remote applications, blending in the gas network and use in transport. To support projects on ground, the authority last month opened a $10 million Renewable Hydrogen Fund and made cash available to feasibility studies, demonstration or capital works projects, to facilitate private investment.

Last week, the state government set aside $1.68 million in funding from the Renewable Hydrogen Fund toward the support of seven renewable hydrogen feasibility studies, including an electrolysis production plant and solar hydrogen for waste collection.

“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,” Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said. She noted the government received 19 feasibility study applications of which it chose seven, which confirmed the strong interest of developing a renewable hydrogen industry in WA.

On the ground, Canadian gas giant ATCO is already blending renewable hydrogen into the on-site natural gas network at its solar and battery hydrogen innovation hub in WA. The blend will be used throughout the Jandakot depot as the first step in exploring the potential of hydrogen for home use in gas appliances.

Last year, a massive green hydrogen production project was unveiled for Western Australia with Siemens on board as technology partner. The project proposed by Hydrogen Renewables Australia (HRA) aims to produce green hydrogen for local industry and export to Asia from up to 5,000 MW of combined wind and solar capacity.