Plans to build Australia’s first renewable hydrogen demonstration plant in a remote power system in Denham, Western Australia, are on track to get underway in the second half of 2021, after the appointment of local engineering outfit Hybrid Systems Australia to build the project.
Horizon said the contract would see Hybrid Systems, the integrated renewables division of Pacific Energy, deliver a 704kW solar system, 348kW electrolyser, hydrogen compression and storage, and a 100kW fuel cell at the coastal town situated roughly 100km south of Carnarvon.
For Horizon, the appointment marks a step towards its target of no new diesel generation systems from 2025 – no easy task for the W.A. government-owned utility that is charged with supplying electricity to the vast state’s regional towns and remote communities.
Denham, for example, is currently supplied power through a combination of diesel and wind generation – an ageing system Horizon is looking to replace with a combination of wind, solar and diesel back-up, while also demonstrating the role renewable hydrogen can play in energy storage.
“This is a world leading trial which aims to demonstrate a future energy solution which encourages greater uptake of greener energy sources,” said Horizon Power CEO Stephanie Unwin.
“By creating opportunities to work with industry to trial emerging technologies such as hydrogen, we are helping to solve real-world challenges while also contributing to the broadening of industry’s knowledge and expertise.”
For Hybrid Systems, the new contract with the government-owned utility builds on the work the company has already been doing alongside Western Power to install more than 40 solar and battery-based stand-alone power systems across its own vast grid.
The company also recently delivered a solar and battery-based microgrid for an open-cut kaolin clay mine and geological waste repository in Western Australia that has proven able to run operations entirely “hydrocarbon free” during daylight hours.
The fuel cell will use renewable energy to power the electrolyser, which will produce green hydrogen which can be stored for later use in a fuel cell to deliver electricity, Horizon said.
Hybrid Systems executive director Mike Hall said the Denham hydrogen demonstration plant was a ground breaking project that promised to add another key future energy supply to the business’s portfolio.
“This is an exciting project which is taking the integration of renewables to the next level by creating green hydrogen to use as an electricity supply,” he said in a statement.
“Projects such as Denham are crucial in supporting the growth and sustainability of the industry to a point where this new technology can become both technically and commercially viable.”
Construction of the plant will start in August 2021, with commissioning to commence in December. Hybrid Systems has committed to engage with regional suppliers and contractors to support the delivery of the project, which has received funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, as well as the Western Australian government.