Viva Energy has entered into an agreement with Nel Hydrogen, a subsidiary of Oslo-based Nel ASA, to supply a containerised electrolyser which will produce green hydrogen for use in the Australian company’s $43.3 million New Energies Service Station project being developed adjacent to its Geelong refinery.
Viva, which supplies approximately 25% of Australia’s liquid fuel requirements, said the electrolyser will be the “largest in Australia by a considerable margin”, capable of producing more than 1,000 kilograms of green hydrogen per day.
“This equipment will be the first of its kind in the Australian market,” Viva said in a statement. “Once installed, it will be at least twice the size of any other electrolyser producing green hydrogen in the country.”
The MC500 containerised proton-exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser will have a production capacity of up to 1,063kg per day, and will supply fuel cell grade hydrogen produced on site to the dedicated fuelling station. The electrolyser, which is expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2023, will be powered by renewable electricity with Viva planning to deploy an up to 20 MW solar array as part of its Geelong Energy Hub.
Viva has also placed an order with French gas company Air Liquide for the provision of a ‘fast fill’ hydrogen refuelling package designed to refuel at least 10 trucks or buses consecutively.
The system will be capable of dispensing 300kg of hydrogen in under two hours. Viva said this will provide hydrogen customers with a similar refuelling experience to today’s traditional service station.
Viva said the purchase orders are critical first steps in the company’s vision to establish “Australia’s most ambitious hydrogen mobility project”, which is expected to be the catalyst for a network of hydrogen refuelling stations located on key transport routes up Australia’s east coast, connecting Geelong and Melbourne to Sydney and Brisbane.
Viva, which supplies a service station network of about 1,350 Shell and Liberty service stations across Australia, said the New Energies Service Station is expected to commence operations in late 2023. The company said as well as offering commercial hydrogen refuelling facilities, it will also offer electric vehicle (EV) recharging.
The confirmation of the electrolyser purchase comes with the New South Wales (NSW) and Victorian governments announcing plans to work together to deliver Australia’s first renewable hydrogen highway.
The NSW and Victorian governments said on Monday they have each invested $10 million in grant funding for the Hume Hydrogen Highway, a joint grant initiative to support the development of at least four refuelling stations along the highway and approximately 25 hydrogen-powered trucks.
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said applications are now open for $20 million in grant funding to support the design and delivery of renewable hydrogen trucking along Australia’s busiest freight corridor.
“This initiative aims to show the potential of renewable hydrogen for heavy vehicles with the goal of transitioning the freight sector to zero emissions energy sources,” he said, adding the project is “expected to drive uptake of renewable hydrogen in the heavy transport sector”.
Victoria’s Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said transport accounts for 25% of Victoria’s total carbon footprint and the green hydrogen highway would help drive down emissions.
“Australia’s busiest corridor is the perfect place to kickstart the transition to a zero-emission freight sector,” she said. “The renewable hydrogen highway will create new jobs, drive investment across the east coast and is a landmark step towards meeting Victoria’s target to halve emissions by 2030 as we work towards net-zero by 2050.”
Kean said the Hume Hydrogen Highway is the first initiative of a statewide hydrogen refuelling network.
“What we’re looking for is strong industry collaboration between refuelling station operators, fleet operators, truck manufacturers, major freight customers, and other entities which will be vital to the success of the initiative,” he said.
The Victorian, NSW and Queensland governments will collaborate on the development of the renewable hydrogen highway by 2026, focusing on the Hume Highway, the Pacific Highway and the Newell Highway.
Grant applications close 21 October 2022. The successful applicant must enter into a joint funding agreement with both governments.
Queensland is also looking to establish a hydrogen refuelling network with bp Australia recently announcing it has teamed with gas and engineering company BOC to build a green hydrogen refuelling facility at its Port of Brisbane service station in Queensland.
The refuelling facility will dispense green hydrogen produced by BOC at its nearby Bulwer Island production site. The green hydrogen will be produced by a 220 kW electrolyser powered by a 100 kW solar installation.
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