Adelaide hydrogen plant secures deal to supply "steel city" Whyalla | RenewEconomy

Adelaide hydrogen plant secures deal to supply “steel city” Whyalla

Adelaide’s Tonsley Hydrogen Park locks in a deal to supply steel hub Whyalla with zero emissions hydrogen, with first production about to start.

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A BOC Hydrogen tube trailer (credit: BOC).

One of Australia’s first renewable hydrogen facilities is set to supply one of Australia’s major steelmaking hubs, with a deal struck that will see green hydrogen produced in Adelaide trucked to the ‘steel city’ of Whyalla.

Australian Gas Networks announced on Monday that it had secured a supply deal for the Tonsley hydrogen plant, which is undergoing final commissioning at a technology park just outside of Adelaide, to provide zero emissions hydrogen to the steel manufacturing hub of Whyalla.

The company confirmed that it had completed the installation of the electrolyser at the Tonsley facility, which will produce hydrogen using renewable electricity, and that it was currently undergoing commissioning.

Australian Gas Networks’ parent company, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), said that it had secured a supply deal with BOC, which will install a compressor and establish tube trailer refilling at the Tonsley site, that will allow renewable hydrogen to be transported to industrial customers in Whyalla.

Initially, BOC will supply the renewable hydrogen to its Whyalla Argon Purification Unit, using the hydrogen to power the production of high purity argon, which is in turn used in industrial processes and welding gases.

“This initial partnership with BOC is a key enabler to further potential expansion to South Australia and wider industrial markets. It also brings us a step closer to supplying hydrogen for vehicle refuelling in South Australia,” AGIG’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben Wilson said.

“Tube trailers are a well-established form of hydrogen transport. This new renewable hydrogen production source at HyP SA demonstrates the wider potential for this carbon-free gas and its ability to integrate into existing and future energy networks.”

Hydrogen Park South Australia (HyP SA) has been established at the Tonsley technology park, with a 1.25MW electrolyser installed with financial assistance from the South Australian government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Green hydrogen is being seen as the key alternative to the use of coal as a source of heat needed for steel manufacturing, with multiple European steelmakers already trialling the use of green hydrogen in iron smelting and steel production.

Hydrogen is already being delivered to some industrial users in Whyalla, but supplies are currently being trucked in from producers in Victoria. The start of renewable hydrogen production within Adelaide help to significantly cut the distance that hydrogen has to be hauled, with a reduction of around 117,000km in truck-mileage avoided.

The avoided trucking of hydrogen from Victoria itself is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 122 tonnes per year.

“SA will now have a local supply of green hydrogen readily available for energy projects, storage, mobility and more. BOC is proud to be partnering with AGIG to support South Australian research groups and businesses which are developing world leading energy solutions,” BOC’s director for strategy and business development, Vesna Olles, said.

“The short delivery routes for gas sourced from AGIG’s HyP SA will significantly reduce costs and open the hydrogen market in South Australia. The reduction in transport emissions also makes this a great move towards our goal of delivering green hydrogen to South Australia.”

“Previously, hydrogen was transported to South Australia from Victoria. The volumes from HyP SA will also supply Western Australian customers, significantly reducing their transport emissions for hydrogen that was produced using 100% renewable energy,” Olles added.

The refilling infrastructure is expected to be installed at the Tonsley site by January 2021, with first deliveries of renewable hydrogen to Whyalla expected to be completed shortly thereafter.

In addition to supplying hydrogen to industrial users, the Tonsley hydrogen facility supply zero-emissions gas to be blended into the mains gas network. Around 700 homes in the Adelaide suburb of Mitchell Park will receive mains gas with a 5 per cent hydrogen mix.

As one of Australia’s key centres for steel production, the growth of Whyalla’s green hydrogen capabilities is likely to help drive the decarbonisation of an otherwise coal hungry industry.

British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta, CEO of the GFG Alliance which owns the Whyalla Steelworks, has announced an intention to dramatically overhaul the region’s steel manufacturing, including a massive investment in new renewable energy capacity to supply the region’s steelmaking facilities. This includes a commitment to invest $1 billion in new solar and storage facilities, including the 280MW Cultana solar plant which has already been completed near Whyalla.

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