Frontier pushes ahead with green hydrogen production plans


Western Australian renewables developer Frontier Energy has nominated alkaline water electrolysis as its chosen technology to produce green hydrogen using clean energy supplied by the proposed Bristol Springs Solar (BSS) project being developed near the town of Waroona south of Perth.

The solar farm, to be built next to the Worsley alumina refinery about 120 kilometres south of Perth, would have an initial generation capacity of 114MWdc but Frontier said additional land acquisition opportunities are available that could allow for an increase up to 500MW. The company is also exploring the potential of adding a battery energy storage system and the development of green hydrogen production using clean energy from the BSS project.

Frontier managing director Mike Young said the company remains on track to commence construction of the Bristol Springs solar project in 2023 while a study into the production of green hydrogen incorporating clean energy generated by the solar farm is due to be completed mid-year.

The study, being conducted by Xodus Group, has already assessed the most appropriate hydrogen plant design, including the timeframe to first hydrogen production, initial plant size and scalability, input power characteristics and preferred technologies.

Simple flow sheet of hydrogen production.

Image: Frontier Energy

Frontier said alkaline water electrolysis technology (AWE) had been chosen for the hydrogen production process due to its lower cost, technical robustness and “technical maturity” compared to alternative methods. Another advantage of AWE is the modular nature of its installation which “allows for hydrogen production earlier than originally anticipated and for staged future expansion”.

The Perth-headquartered company also announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Norwegian company Nel Hydrogen, a division of Nel ASA, and Victorian-based gas transport and storage business ENGV, to assist in the development of the production plant and market distribution.

“The development of our Bristol Springs project is well advanced, but the current project is only the first stage of our long-term vision,” he said.

“We aim to become one of the first commercial green hydrogen producers in Australia.

“The MoU with Nel and ENGV ensures that our green hydrogen strategy is carried out in the most efficient manner.”

Under the terms of the MoU, Nel and ENGV, which teamed up to deliver the hydrogen microgrid for Canadian gas giant ATCO at Jandakot in WA, will assist with the advancement of Frontier’s hydrogen study including furthering the development of the green hydrogen production plant, compression and storage, and distributing to market. Nel is expected to provide the hydrogen technology solutions while ENGV will provide integration services.

Frontier said construction on the initial stage of the Bristol Springs Solar project is expected to commence in early 2023 and it remains on track to release both the renewable expansion and the complete green hydrogen study by mid-year.

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