Telco project replaces diesel generators at remote towers with hydrogen energy

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Victorian-based hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer Energys Australia has had on one of their 10 kW renewable hydrogen generators installed at Neerim North, 120 km east of Melbourne, as part of a $1.1 million (US 740,000) pilot project with Telstra.

The generator is installed with a Telstra mobile tower and equipped with enough renewable hydrogen for a minimum 72-hour running capacity, should the tower be disabled.

Energys says they’re currently sourcing hydrogren for their generators from an undisclosed location in Victoria.

Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio said Victoria’s Gas Substitution Roadmap confirms that renewable hydrogen will play a critical, targeted role in the energy transition by strengthening energy resilience.

Telstra Integrated Network, Facilities and Environment Executive Vicki Romanovski said the Telstra network and other infrastructure are vulnerable to extreme weather events.

“Renewable hydrogen is an alternative energy option that could help keep our customers connected. The pilot will help us determine its future role in this space,” Romanovski said.

The Telstra pilot project hydrogen fuel cells were manufactured by Energys Australia at their Mulgrave, Victoria factory and will also see hydrogen fuel cells installed at the Coldstream, Kinglake, Christmas Hills and Chum Creek communities which have experienced telecommunication outages due to extreme storms.

The pilot was funded through the $6.6 million Renewable Hydrogen Commercialisation Pathways Fund.

Energys was also the recipient of a $1 million Commercialisation Pathways Fund to develop the Energys Renewable Hydrogen Production facility that will produce renewable hydrogen via electrolysis for use in transportation and for applications needing an alternative to diesel.

At an estimated final cost of $3.3 million, the facility is said to be under construction in Melbourne and will comprise a 1 MW electrolyser with compression and storage together with dispensing facilities for tube trailers, or trucks that haul gaseous hydrogen and man packs, or industrial grade hydrogen cylinders.

New York-headquartered hydrogen company Plug Power is listed as a proponent in the Energys Renewable Hydrogen Production Facility. It is  also currently partnered in Australia with Allied Green Ammonia for a 3 GW electrolyser project in the Northern Territory and to supply two 5 MW proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser systems for green hydrogen projects in Tasmania.

According to a CSIRO outline of the Energys production facility, the renewable energy for their electrolyser will be sourced via the grid primarily during low demand / low price periods, to help reduce the cost of hydrogen production and contribute to grid stability.

Operations are anticipated to start in 2024, with key hydrogen components ordered and discussions with potential offtakers underway.

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