H2EX and Black and Veatch assess white hydrogen potential of South Australian site

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H2EX, and Black and Veatch have signed an Engineering Services Agreement (ESA) to explore and study extraction of hydrogen, and potentially helium on Eyre Peninsula.

Collaborating with teams from the University of Adelaide and Australian National University, who are conducting geological surveys on the site, it is hoped is a pathway toward drilling for and extracting hydrogen from natural reserves underground, can be identified.

Black and Veatch will provide two concept designs for the drilling and completion of a hydrogen exploration well and for surface facilities to purify, process and deliver extracted hydrogen and helium, including co-production of the resources, if they are found together.

Mark Hanna CEO H2EX said the $2 million development study will help H2EX fast-track their first exploration wells and development scheme.

“If successful, hydrogen will be a great source of energy for power generation and transport on the Eyre Peninsula and help decarbonise the region, which predominantly uses liquid fuels for energy and transport while helium is also a high-value and scarce commodity,” Hanna said.

Black and Veatch Global Advisory Strategic Growth Managing Director Yatin Premchand said the company has an 80-year history working with hydrogen and ammonia production in multiple industries.

“The company developed the first hydrogen power generation conversion project and the first major hydrogen fuelling station deployment in the United States; since then, our experts have continued to deliver reliable innovation and first-of-a-kind solutions across the hydrogen value chain.”

After receiving an exploration licence in 2022, as well as six first-ranked applications covering 52,000 square kilometres, the H2EX study was awarded an $863,000 Cooperative Research Council Projects (CRC-P) grant through the Federal Department of Science and Innovation, in 2023.

The Australian Government is investing $526 million (USD 347 million) through the Regional Hydrogen Hubs programme as part of the government’s $40 billion investment to transform the country into a powerhouse of green energy generation and innovation.

New Rystad Energy research found the South Australian government added hydrogen to its list of regulated substances in 2021, which has led to many companies applying for exploration permits in the region, including Gold Hydrogen which secured a five-year license to develop its Ramsay project on Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island.

The company found high hydrogen concentrations of up to 86% during drilling in late 2023 and plans to conduct further drilling in 2024 and launch a pilot feasibility study.

Rystad found at the end of 2023, 40 companies were searching for natural hydrogen deposits globally, up from 10 in 2020, and include Australia, the US, Spain, France, Albania, Colombia, South Korea, and Canada, in one case extracting at an estimated cost of $0.5 / kg, while projects in Australia aim for $1 / kg.

Minh Khoi Le, Head of Hydrogen Research at Rystad Energy said as an affordable, clean natural resource, white hydrogen may shift the role of hydrogen from an energy carrier to part of the primary energy supply.

“Natural hydrogen is expected to be low-cost, reliable, clean and have a low environmental footprint,” H2EX CFO and Director Greschen Brecker told pv magazine Australia.

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