Gold Hydrogen said tests conducted by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) detected naturally occurring hydrogen in multiple soil samples taken from its Ramsay project site on the Yorke Peninsula.
Naturally occurring hydrogen – dubbed ‘white’ or ‘gold’ hydrogen – is attracting increasing attention as a potential new renewable energy source with proponents confident the resource could be exploited at a lower cost than producing the gas from fossil fuels or electrolysis.
Gold Hydrogen, which has been awarded petroleum exploration licence (PEL) 687 — which covers 7,820 square kilometres across South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island — said the CSIRO stage one soil survey indicates potential natural hydrogen seeps which are near geological faults that extend to basement rocks across the mainland component of the site.
The Queensland-headquartered company said the survey results are “encouraging” but acknowledged the only sure way to determine if there is a hydrogen accumulation in the area is to drill one or more wells.
“Exploration wells need to be drilled, evaluated and tested to determine the presence and producibility of natural hydrogen,” it said in a statement.
Gold Hydrogen said it plans to drill the first of those wells in October 2023 with the findings to be integrated with the soil test results to assist with further exploration planning.
A second stage soil-gas survey has been tentatively scheduled for late 2023 – early 2024.
The Gold Hydrogen announcement comes after West Australian natural hydrogen startup H2EX received a federal government grant of $863,000 (USD 585,600) as a partner on a project intended to develop green and passive exploration techniques to accelerate the discovery and extraction of renewable natural hydrogen.
H2EX, which is partnering with the University of Adelaide, Australian National University, and engineering consultancy Black & Veatch on the $2.1 million project, said it will provide a clear pathway to harvest natural hydrogen, which it expects could be up to 75% cheaper than manufacturing hydrogen.
“The project will establish an exploration blueprint in this nascent industry,” H2EX Chairman Peter Coleman said. “Accelerating the discovery of natural hydrogen will assist Australia in retaining its global competitive advantage as a low-cost energy producer, for domestic and export markets.”
The project will be undertaken on H2EX’s exploration licence PEL 691, covering an area of 6,000 square kilometres on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
The funding was provided as part of the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) Grants scheme.
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