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South Australia launches tender for hydrogen plant, buses

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The South Australian government has called for tenders for hydrogen infrastructure proposals, and for the supply of hydrogen-fuelled buses, as part of its plan to transform the state into a zero carbon “hydrogen economy,” based on its nation-leading wind and solar assets.

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The tenders – which are part of the government’s plan to build a South Australian hydrogen production facility and refuelling station – are part of the Weatherill government’s Hydrogen Roadmap, launched on Friday under its $150 million Renewable Technology Fund.

The government is also seeking to trial at least six hydrogen cell buses in the Adelaide Metro fleet, and is calling for proposals to supply those, along with necessary refuelling and hydrogen fuel production infrastructure.

Developed with industry – including Siemens and Advisian (a part of the WorleyParsons Group) – the Roadmap outlines how the state’s nation-leading renewable wind and solar capacity can attract international investment in hydrogen production.

The “techno-economic” guide also includes an interactive map that aims to help investors and project developers to identify sites suitable for hydrogen infrastructure in the state.

South Australia’s move into hydrogen comes as the state bounds ahead on large-scale wind and solar, having passed its 50 per cent renewable energy target last year, eight years ahead of schedule.

Hydrogen can be produced from surplus renewable sources such as wind or solar through a process called electrolysis, which splits clean water into hydrogen and oxygen. That hydrogen can then be used in a hydrogen fuel cell to power vehicles, or exported around the world.

“The beauty of Hydrogen is that it can be made using excess energy capacity driven by renewables and then used in a vast range of business applications,” said Siemens Australia and New Zealand chief, Jeff Connolly on Friday.

“South Australia’s abundant renewable resources and renewable targets lends itself to hydrogen solutions,” he said.

“Hydrogen offers an opportunity to create a new industry in South Australia where we can export our sun and wind resources to the world,” said state energy minister Tom Koutsantonis in a statement on Friday.

“Our Hydrogen Roadmap aims to have South Australia at the forefront of hydrogen development in this region within the next decade,” he said.

Koutsantonis said that, in line with the Roadmap, Adelaide commuters would be able to ride on the first of a fleet of hydrogen-powered buses using locally-produced fuel within two years.

And within three years, the state aims to have the capacity to export its first hydrogen supplies produced using local renewable energy assets.

“Within a decade South Australian motorists should be able to drive from Ceduna to Mt Gambier in a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle topping up at a state-wide network of refuelling stations,” the minister said.

“If Australia can find a way to export renewable energy then we can build on our coal and gas export businesses and maintain our role well into the future as a regional energy export superpower,” Connolly added.  

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  • aggri1

    Oh no, not this stupidity. Perhaps they’ll find a niche for hydrogen but since it’s so woefully inefficient as an energy storage mechanism compared with batteries, what’s the point again?

    • MrMauricio

      So what your point again? Yes there is a very big “niche” for hydrogen in heavy transport.Fuel cell cars have comparable range to Li-ion battery powered vehicles already.The problem is the cost and method of obtaining hydrogen-as well as storing liquid hydrogen.Big strides are being made in these areas-including in Australia
      http://www.hazergroup.com.au/

      • Richard

        It’s just another method of keeping fossil fuel extraction going long term. It only results in an aproximate 50%(I bet that is overstating it too!) reduction on carbon emissions from natural gas extraction.

        It’s just a massive con and when the eventual carbon tax arrives this technology will go the way of the Dodo.

      • Pixilico

        Interesting process, worth looking into. Hydrogen is obtained from methane and carbon is captured: CH4 —-> 2H2 + C. However, there’s all but no relevant information as to the economics of it. Otoh, the economics of battery-based EVs has been improving markedly. Can hydrogen still compete in such a scenario? My personal take on the issue: natural gas used for the first phase of the hydrogen economy (to create the infrastructure and the market for it. The second phase would be obtaining “carbon-less” hydrogen on a massive scale. That would probably resort to high-temperature processes stripping H2 from water, in addition to beefed-up electrolysis. The Westinghouse process comes to my mind.

        • Houston Rocketeer

          Pixi—You are correct about the superiority of SMR, both technologically and financially. Check out HydrogenXT for the proof. They have patents on a proprietary SMR process and recently acquired the SMR manufacturing division of NuVera that uses smaller SMR’s for lift trucks in warehouses. Larger SMR’s under HydrogenXT are for cars, buses, and tractor trailer rigs. Economically, compared to transported H2, solar, or hydrolysis, SMR produced hydrogen is a fraction of the cost, produces its own water and electricity to keep reforming the H2, and instead of stealing it from the grid, they can actually sell H2 generated electricity back to the grid at large profit. And, it uses abundant and cheap natural gas or even landfill methane. I know, but cannot say, how much profit SMR generates. But, you definitely want to watch HydrogenXT closely as they prepare an IPO.

    • Andy Bowe

      I think the idea is to inject it into the otherwise hydrocarbon LNG stream, they released they can supplement NG in pipes by at 10% without needing to alter infrastructure so could be a way of reducing emissions whilst still burning gas. CSIRO experimenting with Ammonia as a way to store hydrogen, ship os and then strip out Hydrogen. Not only for fuel cells in vehicles. Surplus wind could be encouraged to ensure supply for grid and not have to sit idle.

  • Richard

    Hydrogen fool cells. God, how stupid can you be!

  • solarguy

    For stationary storage to energy H2 is ok for powering the grid, but I don’t think light vehicles should be powered by H2 as the infrastructure would be too expensive to build and in efficient. Some will argue that the good thing about H2 is that refilling times are short.

    • Brunel

      If only EU or Japan or Obama looked at battery swapping properly.

      But honestly, we can cut petrol consumption by powering the AC in cars using a lithium ion battery.

      • Mike Shackleton

        When you look at how Tesla builds the chassis of their cars with the whole floor of the vehicle embedded with batteries, I don’t see how battery swap tech would be feasible, except for boxy vehicles such as buses and trucks.

        • Brunel

          That is because each Tesla car has a huge 70 kWh battery.

          A Taiwan firm makes electric scooters/Vespas, and each contains two batteries that you swap out with your hand.

          The firm is named GoGo Ro I think.

  • Adrian

    Hydrogen fuel with be most useful in heavy transport; trucks, buses, trains, planes. Do you seriously want to hear noisy and smelly, buses and garbage trucks driving around your metro streets anymore, certainly don’t!
    Good example of renewables being used to power hydrogen plant.

    • Robert Comerford

      This is the type of use that hydrogen is good for, not small cars.

      • neroden

        Already obsolete — electric buses are already in widespread use, electric trains are over 100 years old, electric trucks are being introduced as we speak.

        I guess you can use hydrogen for planes. Those are called “Zeppelins”, right? 🙂

  • Brunel

    Complete madness! Along with the Adelaide real estate bubble.

    The one advantage that SA should have – cheap land – has been turned into a disadvantage.

  • neroden

    People are still pursuing this idiocy? Look, BYD is already making Class 7 electric trucks, and Tesla will be out with a Class 8. Electric buses are being sold by the *thousands* in China.

    Who is paying the government to waste money on hydrogen?

  • Hurray Harry

    I admire Musk but he is wrong on hydrogen. Batteries are more suspect (energy to make; life span; tend to run down – a friend with a Tesla found his car slowed on long trips as the battery ran down).
    Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Membranes run at about 80% efficiency (thats 0.8 x 0.8 for electricity to H2 to electricity – 65% – though in Germany they get higher net efficiency by using the heat. Compare with “High Efficient” ultra high cost coal plants: 45% efficiency).
    In vehicles, as appearing around the world, the ‘tank’ is refilled in <2 min for a car. Range is 600 km and being increased. So its a no-brainer for 'return to base vehicles.

    This hasn't been mooted – its entirely my suggestion – but does anyone remember the old 'gasometers'? They had coal gas which was 50% CO and 50% H2. Ugly but reliable. H2 could be stored like that and the switch to full electric power is less than a second. Compare that to a power station.

    Sorry folks but you are in the wrong century.

    (BTW, Sophie Vorrath doesn't understand the difference between kW and kW.h. She gets them mixed up. So her stories are suspect).

    • Ian

      That is so unkind, and uncalled for, Sophie writes some fine stories that provoke good debate. Kilowatt, schmilowatt.

      • Hurray Harry

        Ian, what I wrote is true. I can believe she writes fine stories. But it is tiresome when journalists show that they don’t understand their subject properly.
        I don’t know what your last word can possibly mean. What ARE you on about? Is it some misunderstanding between Watt (James Watt) and “what” ?