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Neoen plans world’s biggest solar + wind powered hydrogen hub in S.A.

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Photomontage of proposed Crystal Brook wind farm, site of wind-solar-hydrogen-battery “Superhub”. Source: Neoen 

South Australia is laying claim to another “world’s biggest” storage project, this time with wind and solar-powered hydrogen storage to add to its world’s biggest lithium-ion battery storage installation (the Tesla big battery), and the world’s biggest virtual power plant (Tesla again).

The state Labor government has announced plans to provide initial funding, and ultimately a loan, to help French renewable energy developer Neoen build a 50MW hydrogen “electrolyser” that would be powered by a new wind and solar complex at Crystal Brook, north of Adelaide.

The complex will combine a new wind and solar production facility totalling 300MW, along with a significant amount of battery storage, and lay the foundations to export large quantities of “renewable hydrogen” to Asia, competing as a green alternative to LNG.

Neoen, of course, is the operator of the Hornsdale Power Reserve, the official name of the Tesla big battery, and also has another wind project with battery storage in the pipeline for Nectar Farms, (and again with Tesla) providing 100 per cent renewable energy for the country’s biggest greenhouse.

This new development, at the proposed Crystal Brook energy park , just south of Port Pirie in the state’s mid north, and about 40kms from the Hornsdale complex which houses its 315MW wind farm and the 100MW/129MWh Tesla battery, is of another scale.

It would include 150MW of solar, about 150MW of wind, as well as up to 50MW hydrogen plant along with up to 400MWh of battery storage, again most likely with Tesla.

South Australia will provide a $1 million grant to help Neoen complete its feasibility study for the so-called Hydrogen Superhub, and would then provide a further $4 million grant, and a $20 million loan should the $600 million project go ahead.

These monies would be made available through the Renewable Technology Fund, the same mechanism that has provided funding for the Tesla big battery, and numerous other storage-related projects announced in recent months, including this new micro-grid for University of Adelaide unveiled today.

State energy minister Tom Koutsantonis says the hydrogen plant – 5 times bigger than another facility proposed for Port Lincoln – would produce up to 20,000kg of hydrogen per day, which could open up renewable hydrogen exports to Asia.

“Our hydrogen roadmap has laid the groundwork for South Australia to become a world leader in the emerging hydrogen production industry, and to benefit from the economic opportunities that flow from it,” he said in a statement.

“More renewable energy means cheaper power, and I’m pleased the state government can partner with Neoen to once again develop a world-leading renewable energy and storage project following the construction of the Tesla battery at Jamestown.

“The Superhub will enable Neoen to produce renewable hydrogen for overseas export markets, and create 300 construction and ongoing jobs for South Australia.”

The Labor government, of course, is in full election mode, with a state poll due on March 17 and the results on a knife-edge. It has made a string of project and funding announcements, and unveiled a 75 per cent renewable energy target for 2025, along with a 750MW storage target.

The state already sources 50 per cent of its electricity from wind and solar, and the Australian Energy Market Operator says this could rise to 73 per cent as early as 2020/21, and up to 80 per cent by 2026/27.

Franck Woitiez, the head of Neon’s Australian operations, says the project will aim to produce hydrogen at internationally “cost competitive” rates, allowing for the export of hydrogen gas, which will compete with LNG.

“This project aims to take South Australia made renewable electricity in the form of hydrogen based compounds to important national and international markets in Asia and beyond,” he said.

“It has the potential to reach beyond our electricity grids, and supply South Australia’s locally produced clean energy to other states and to our nearby trading partners.”

Neoen is already committed to a hydrogen project for the ACT government, part of its winning tender for stage 3 of the Hornsdale wind farm, which will contribute towards the territory’s 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 target.

Neoen and Megawatt Capital agreed to invest $55 million in partnership with Siemens and Hyundai to establish a small 1.25MW hydrogen electrolyser, which converts electricity to hydrogen.

That initiative will include a refuelling station and service centre and an initial fleet of 20 hydrogen fuelled cars, including a technical support and research program.

Woitiez says the South Australia feasibility study will look at the best way to integrate the hydrogen facility, and identify the best size of the facility, and the best size for the best battery storage.

“It’s a very interesting opportunity for South Australia to use the renewable energy that it produces in the state. It’s very exciting,” Woitiez told RenewEconomy. He sees opportunities for hydrogen both in exports and in domestic transport.

Woitiez says the study should be completed – and an investment decision made – by the end of the year. The wind and solar component will likely go ahead in any case.

Neoen has quietly developed its plans for Crystal Brook – which until now had proposed only a combination of wind, solar and storage, although it has been facing some resistance from locals against the wind turbines.

At a meeting last year, Neon’s Garth Heron reportedly told residents that the battery – as then planned – could supply 18 per cent of the state’s households for four hours in a blackout. He said Tesla technology was likely to be used in the lithium-ion battery installation.

Origin Energy had dumped a proposal for a 40-turbine wind farm in the same area back in 2012.

 

  

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  • Sir Pete o Possums Reek

    This is an excellent example of diversification while also building scale.
    Way more intelligent than breaking big rocks into little rocks.
    Lets assume its _excess_ H2 that gets exported because we have learnt that lesson … haven’t we ?

    • “allowing for the export of hydrogen gas, which will compete with LNG.”

      Actually, it will have to compete with hydrogen produced by the target customer’s country.

      • Sir Pete o Possums Reek

        Yes it will. Hopefully.
        Well I would hope so, only seems sensible.
        It seems plain to me that there will be potential for much more diverse domestic economies. Not that global trade is going away … maybe it will be less about commodities and more abut high value goods.

        Though how much H2 will be lugged about or stored in very large quantities, as pure H2 remains to be seen in any case.

        The convert to ammonia or enrich natural gas ideas seem safer and cheaper. (also locally I should think) .

        My _guess_ is that the current Industrial powers are going to need a lot of energy (sure) and _chemical precursor_ inputs for a couple of decades yet. Enriching LNG simply extends the economic life of current stocks _especially_ if we all need less of it.

        Producing easily transportable ammonia … may be more viable…
        (from similar systems ) and does not require a fossil fuel input at all.

        Though tipping points are alarming things.
        Who knows ?
        Just some supposing thats all.

  • Chris Drongers

    Great news. Can someone give me roundtrip efficiency for an electrolytic hydrogen cycle? % loss electricity to hydrogen & %loss hydrogen back to electricity by gas turbine/steam cycle/fuel cell.
    Presumably hydrogen is most valuable as a storable transport fuel?

    • Darren

      Ammonia is used as the transport agent. CSIRO’s membrane reactor seperates. some of your cost/utilization can be answered from here https://twitter.com/solar_chase/status/970439015550898176

    • ben

      I don’t know about the efficiency, but I’ve read about the use of ammonia as a storage and transport mechanism for hydrogen. Ammonia is essential for fertiliser and if they could use the clean and cheap wind power up there plus water from a solar thermal desalination plant, to produce hydrogen via electrolysis, and they could produce ammonia, then they could also have a fertiliser industry. Most ammonia production uses natural gas or coal gas as feedstock, plus uses a lot of heat for the process. Electrical methods would remove a lot of the CO2e emissions

    • RobertO

      Hi Chris Drongers The efficiency for this cycle is 100% (and it’s 100 waste of time to even consider the efficiency in the Hydrogen cycle). Most people do not talk about how efficient WTG are because it not relevant to any discussion.

      • GlennM

        Really…it is a reasonable question. You could have answered it and pointed out that at zero marginal cost the efficiency does not need to be high to make a good economic argument. Actually there is a lot of research on water splitting and the efficiencies are getting better which IS a good thing.

    • Carl Raymond S

      From memory, 40 to 60%. Not great, but not bad if your energy source is as cheap as wind and solar at times of overproduction (where the price, I have read, actually goes negative at times).
      Making hydrogen to turn back into electricity during peak or during wind lulls seems an excellent idea. Storage of hydrogen is bulky – it’s the lightest element, so it’s best NOT for transport where lithium batteries appear to have won.
      Hydrogen plus CO2 makes methane, via the sabatier process, which is a direct sub for piped gas for cooking and heating – the stuff that has become expensive because of export contracts.
      I think this story is just one example of new industries that will pop up to take advantage of super cheap ‘sometimes energy’, a symptom of the new energy landscape as we approach 100% RE.

      • “I think this story is just one example of new industries that will pop up to take advantage of super cheap ‘sometimes energy'”.

        Therein lies a dilemma. As new industries arise to take “free(ish)” energy, it will become more valuable.

        • Chris Drongers

          Thanks Raymond and Jeff – confirms that the hydrogen cycle is inefficient (at the moment) but it doesn’t matter because the ‘fuel’ is ‘free’ (at the moment). (capital costs aside).
          And in the future that ‘free’ spilled wind/solar power will attract higher value uses than substituting natural gas – e.g. lower temperature settings in big freezers, phase-change air conditioning chillers, small batch foundary work, artists kilns etc etc.
          The window between expensive batteries and cheap pumped hydro to use that excess power by making hydrogem must be fairly small.

          • RobertO

            Hi Chris Drongers, Please do not talk about the efficiency of H2. People put 2 and 2 together to say that H2 is so inefficient that we should never use that pathway (mainly supports of FF ) and they talk to our pollies about it, that how we lost the so called Carbon Tax (was actually an ETS) under the COALition. Also in the wholesale price of Electricity in the Australian NEM the price gose negative sometimes so the users on NEM contracts get paid to use electricity (The big Battery at Hornsdale has at times been paid to charge the battery up from the NEM). Some H2 produces are planning big networks based on current understanding of the ecomony of a H2 production, see
            http://nelhydrogen.com/
            nikolamotor.com/one
            http://www.bmwblog.com/2017/03/29/bmw-produce-low-volume-hydrogen-fuel-cell-car-2021/

        • Carl Raymond S

          Yeah, that’s Adam Smith’s invisible hand. 15 years from now, when fossil fuels are history, we eventually reach a new equilibrium, with many many intermittent sources, enough storage, some demand management and some industries built to take advantage of the daily solar and random wind driven oversupply.

          • Jens Stubbe

            The economics of wind power and solar power at utility scale once we are beyond subsidies is such that you have to concern yourself with not a fixed selling price but the spot market price you can fetch over lifetime in competition with other RE generators. Demand respons via production of hydrocarbons or other industrial operations that can be time shifted will be immensely important.

        • heinbloed

          The industry isn’t new.
          In Germany Greenpeace sells “Windgas” , that is fossil Methane gas with added hydrogen from RE-power.
          They beat all competitors in the household and small business gas price despite adding only up to 2% of hydrogen.

          The sometimes negative prices of RE-power make the calculation sheets shiny and consumers happy:)

          https://www.greenpeace-energy.de/privatkunden/windgas.html

          It is suitable for vegans, no bio-gas is added.

          • Michael Gunter

            What the…? “It is suitable for vegans, no bio-gas is added” — but we can make methane by mixing autumn leaf litter with human urine: 100% soirced from vegans if they insist! 🙂 So I would say that vegan-ethical biomethane from “very happy, non-free-range methanogenic bacteria” is entirely feasible. But all this crap about 10% H2 making 90% petromethane acceptable to vegans is pure bull***t i.e. smoke-and-mirrors #Greenwash par excellence. Has the whole world gone mad?

          • solarguy

            “Has the whole world gone mad”…………..I’m afraid so!

        • Jens Stubbe

          Do not be concerned. RE gets cheaper when you deploy more. the smart part of being able to produce Synfuels is that you can employ demand response management to the grid on a larger scale.

      • RobertO

        Hi Carl Raymond Natural Gas is a combo of Methane, some Carbon Dioxide and some Hydrogen. A lot of people do not know that and most NG lines have been progressily replaced with plastic line (some are steel with plastic liners and some are just plastic (all new lines are)
        Adding H2 to NG lines is a no brainer if you have curtailment of RE production. There are also ways of filtering H2 out of NG lines if that whats need at a site. Also Solar is DC current and Hydrolisers use DC current so it one less step in the electrical circuit.

      • Jens Stubbe

        60% is definitively in the high end of achievable roundtrip efficiency end as the best electrolyzers only are +80% and the best fuel cells are sub 70%. Add to this compression (the electrolyzer delivers hydrogen at only 30 bar pressure) and you will get the picture.

        Theoretically and actually also achievable in practice an electrolyzer can be 96% efficient and fuel cells can be 84% efficient while this has never been demonstrated.

        And yes I think we are seeing rapid RE price declines towards price points where it simply becomes too expensive to run FF supply chains as RE and excess CO2 will be the cheaper route for production of hydrocarbons.

      • Joe

        40% round trip efficiency is still far better than the 0% efficiency of curtailed wind and solar.

        • Trent Deverell

          …or looking at the current situation of wasting a lot of energy dragging oil, gas and coal half-way around the world and then getting a token 10-35% thermal efficiency at best….. and filling atmosphere and ecosystem full of nasty crap……..

          Truth be known round-trip efficiency shouldn’t be a huge issue with renewable energy as it applies to a finite resource like fossil fuels…..

          Round-trip efficiency would merely be regarded as a measure of how much and how fast can you make the hydrogen…..

          The sun will still shine and wind will still blow tommorrow and most likely for next billion years… whilst the sun does its nuclear fusion thing and sheds the energy into the interstellar.

    • heinbloed

      Hydrogen is now made with 75% efficiency with options to go over 80% efficiency:

      http://www.helmeth.eu/index.php/project

      At KIT in Germany the first pilot plant was build working with 75%:

      http://www.kit.edu/kit/english/pi_2018_009_power-to-gas-with-high-efficiency.php

  • neroden

    OK, there’s a bunch of subtle weasel-wording here.

    They’re trying to give the impression that they’re selling hydrogen as a *fuel*. But if you read carefully, they’re *not*. They’re selling the hydrogen into the industrial gases market, for its chemical value.

    THIS makes a lot of sense, in contrast to hydrogen fuel fantasies.

    Hydrogen is needed for a lot of chemical processes. One very important one: it’s needed to make Direct Reduced Iron without emitting CO2. This is a crucial step in making steel without CO2 emissions.

    • Carl Raymond S

      There’s another set of numbers to crunch here. Once the plant to go from electricity to hydrogen to electricity is paid for, storage capacity is governed only by tank(s) size.
      So you’ve got tanks plus 2x solar v batteries plus 1x solar. (Assuming batteries twice as efficient as the hydrogen round trip).
      Do these lines cross at big GWh of storage numbers? If so, we will see both.
      Must also factor the advantage of having 2x solar – as sometimes they will sell direct.

      • Mike Dill

        They will be selling the gas, and there is no plan that I see for running a gas turbine there.

    • heinbloed
      • Jens Stubbe

        Great that you keep track on these developments.

        Sweden is 100% committed to go 100% GHG neutral as a society and they have huge iron deposits and specialist knowledge about steel making.

        Over the next four years Sweden will increase their wind power capacity by 60%, which due to the newer generators is likely to double their windpower production.

        • Rurik

          Worth noting is that Sweden’s electricity has been fossile free for 40 years due to nuclear power and hydropower. The most interesting development now is as hinted, coke-free hydrogen steel and Europe’s largest land-based wind parks.

          • Jens Stubbe

            Their Nuclear fleet is nearing the end of their commercial lifetime and will generally whenever costly projects are needed be decommissioned.

            I think Myfc is very promising.

    • Stephen Gloor

      Spot on – Hydrogen Reduced Iron for steel making is one of the most urgent things we need. If we could use the hydrogen for making cement then we would really be on a low CO2 pathway.

      • Craig

        Why is it urgent to have hydrogen? CO2 promotes plant growth which is good for the planet and 02 production…..are you repeating global warming quackery….. theory is not fact, weather modelling is based on hundreds of unknown variables and therefore not reliable or factual.

        • Stephen Gloor

          You do know you are on a renewable energy site- right?

          • Craig

            Your right….using all this coal fired electricity is killing the planet, I best leave you green people to save the world. I hope all here are not shareholders or profitting of the back of this green tech, it’s all about keeping the temp down, HEY.

            Chuck another dinosaur on the fire to keep you warm.

          • solarguy

            Graig, can’t blink and breath at the same time. He’s a goose!

        • Daniel Murphy

          You have definitely come to the wrong place.

        • Rod

          Warm outside, innit?

          • Craig

            Yes, coolest summer in years…..must be all that ice melting and the cool air falling downwards towards OZ on its way to the bottom of the planet.

        • It’s like taking one aspirin is good, two aspirins is fine, 200 aspirins not so much. It’s the dosage, man!!!

        • crazy biologist
          • Alastair Leith

            and the protein levels of wheat decline, not so good for baking breads and pastries. 🙂

    • Nick

      Good post thanks neroden

    • Jens Stubbe

      I do not think they can undercut fracking gas based steam reformed Hydrogen as of yet but the transportability of hydrogen and Liquified gas is not such that a global market with identical prices exist.

      The first market will be for industrial purposes for sure as there is an existing +100billion USD market to address. The majority of that market is for refineries, so yes Hydrogen will be sold for fuel. The problem there is that a lot of oil is co-produced with Fracking gas so the FF cluster relies on both to have a market.

      The next market that will be addressed is P2Gas where you add a small fraction of Hydrogen to natural gas simply because it is a cheap existing route to market.

      The major suppliers of Hydrogen has promised to go 100% GHG neutral.

      • Mike Dill

        Add some nitrogen to the hydrogen to make ammonia. Sell it to the farms.

    • Joe

      Anything that gets rid of fossil CO2 emissions is good

    • Rurik

      I agree on hydrogen for e.g. ammonia and steel production. But – I do not think hydrogen as a fuel is fantasies. It makes a lot of sense, especially for all types of heavier vehicles. It also makes sense for cars, in combination with a small, cheap, light plugin-charged battery. It is even possible to make aviation fossile-free with liquid (cooled) hydrogen.

      One crucial thing is fossile gas – as long as fossile gas is extremely cheap, alternatives like hydrogen, solar, wind, nuclear fission and so on, have very little chance to compete. Once we outlaw fossile fuels, the market changes completely.

      And do not even come dragging with the fact that today’s hydrogen production
      is fossile based, that is completely beside the point.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Seems to be a competition on how much taxpayer money can be sucked up. Anyone who wants a handout just has to tack it on to the Labor energy policy, and hope that taxpayers don’t understand.

    • RobertO

      Hi Itdoesntaddup, so how much taxpayer money is this going to suck up. NSW Government spent so $844 million on upgrading the Hunter Railway Line for Coal exports a couple of years ago. $1 million for this feasibility, $4 million grant and $20 million loan if the lot goes ahead. It would seem a better project to me than what the NSW Gov did.

      • itdoesntaddup

        Do we yet know just how much the SA government sunk into the HPR, or even what the cost is? If we don’t know that for a completed project, I would be very wary about making assumptions about a new boondoggle that looks suspiciously “experimental” economically.

        I am not party to the economics of the Hunter rail project, but I think that such projects are very well understood: it is hardly FOAK. Similar railways have been built across the world over many decades. I can find no information substantiating your claim, so a link would be welcome. “Hunter Rail $844m” finds $844m to be spent on the Bruce Highway and $8.4bn on the Melbourne-Brisbane railway.

    • heinbloed

      Clown.

      Link to your statements.

    • Trent Deverell

      You haven’t heard of a company called Adani…. or much of existing fossil fuel industry that has been hoovering hand-outs for decades…

      The Qld coal industry wasted $250M with the oxy-fuel trial and the Yanks have blown US$5bn on the Kemper plant…

      The hydrogen technology is well established, it is much the the same tech that played a big part in getting man to moon 50 years ago, but Big Oil had the inside rails run back on planet earth….

  • Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe

    Whats the point of the hydrogen?
    Its not a big demand item and its necessity for vehicles makes EVs look like market leaders.
    That said it can be used as an energy store, but is it cheaper per kW to create then burn later compared to Powerpacks?

    • hydrophilia

      Best use is usually as a precursor or replacement of other chemical feedstocks, thus saving power or FF otherwise required. Exactly the same as Iceland exporting aluminum from their extensive and cheap geothermal energy.

      • Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe

        But aluminum is in widespread use, they are betting on a future market that is not yet materialized.

    • Trent Deverell

      Hydrogen is perfectly suited to be hybrid/substitute fuel that can be used in existing motive hardware, avoiding capital re-investment or junking existing kit..

      Ultimately, I can’t see a battery powered Boeing Dreamliners happening anytime soon, until battery tech better existing power to weight ratios and be cost effective

      ….. but those existing turbines on the wings and their land/maritime derivatives can all be made run on bio-fuel/hydrogen hybid fuels.

      … and Hydrogen technology is an option to keep battery EV’s honest within the economic realm… competition is good!!! monopolies are problematic…..

      Who knows Exxon and the Arabs might buy out all the Lithium leases … and start a price cartel like they have had for decades with oil…. [lol] “Big Battery!!!”.

      But when most places have access to wind, solar and some form of water, then a hydrogen electrolyser is a game leveler.

  • heinbloed
    • Jens Stubbe

      Technically the great wind power pioneer Poul La Cour built the first modern age wind turbines 125 years ago and added hydrogen inside it also but never mind it is great to see the idea reenacted.

    • thinkmorebelieveless

      Isn’t hydrogen troublesome to store and transport because the molecule is so small that is leaks readily ? Isn’t hydrogen used for leak testing because of this characteristic ??

      • Trent Deverell

        You do know they use hydrogen as a cooling agent inside those giant alternators at coal-fired power stations. Ironic that part of the kit is sall hydrogen electrolyiser on-site to keep the gas topped up and coal unit generating.

        Most high school science labs have hydrogen rig in the prep room!!

        In any case rocket industry had pretty much figured out how to deal with transport and storage hydrogen in gas and liquid forms..

        A lot of the cost and hassle is because it isn’t as common and widespread as other traditional fossil fuels and various chemicals that are reactive, corrosive and downright dangerous.

        H + 02 = water….. (preferably made without an uncontrolled big bang)

        • Ken Egnaczak

          Will the nat gas infrastructure be OK with hydrogen ? Seems like the nat gas system already has abundant leaks (that contribute to GHG emissions)

          • Mike Dill

            At very low levels the H2 is lightly bound to the NG. Up to 10% or so of extra H2 in the NG pipes is not a problem. At very high levels you have corrosion problems.

          • Trent Deverell

            Firstly you need to revisit chemistry…..
            1) Hydrogen re-combined “burned” with Oxygen produces plain Water (H20)…. although typically the reaction is rather vigorous and alarming if conducting in an uncontrolled manner…. think the Hindenburg airship fiasco…

            2) If extra Hydrogen is injected into a hybrid fuel ie. mixed with a bio-fuel, coal-seam methane or conventional NG then the overall amount of carbon is actually reduced by volume creating a smaller nett GHG impact, and in many combinations the overall nett energy content rises with more hydrogen, so you there is an efficiency gain.

            Secondly, the actual need to pipe hydrogen may well be somewhat reduced to niche requirements and tasks. Hence if your got shares in gas pipeline company don’t bank on hydrogen re-using to many of your assets.

            The entire usage structure for hydrogen will likely change…. for instance if hydrogen powered bulk-peaking power plant were built, or for that matter a tiny remote area fuel-cell based power supply on rural property, then co-locating the hydrogen electrolyser and hydrogen re-combining “burning” device (fuel cell, turbine etc) makes the best sense regardless of scale…

            In many cases the electrolyser is going to be powered by solar and wind farm that likewise can be right next door (on the roof) or at some other convenient location with an electrical grid connection handy in bigger arrangements.

            There is plenty of flexibility as the electrolysers can be sized from science lab kits all the way up to things the size of the LNG plants on Curtis island (truth be known they will probably be converted to Hydrogen export one day).

            As far as mobile uses for hydrogen, it can be used in compressed gas form, or chilled to liquid form, or mixed with ammonia for bulk transport, or used as part of hybrid fuel….

            I am sure the economics and genuinely smart scientists and marketers will figure how to make best use hydrogen, and a long time before the drongos in Canberra or Washington can wean themselves of the influence caused by oil, gas and coal industry donations.

      • crazy biologist

        You’re right, that seems to have been overlooked in the article heinbloed linked to. Even if this leakage is accepted, there is currently very little existing hydrogen transport infrastructure, certainly not enough to support widespread consumer use. However hydrogen can be combined with nitrogen to form ammonia. Ammonia is already transported worldwide. The good news is that the CSIRO recently developed a new metal membrane that can separate hydrogen gas from partially decomposed ammonia – see https://blog.csiro.au/insane-hydrogen-membrane-extracting-fuel-future/ Ammonia can be cheaply and easily decomposed using a sodium amide catalyst at an optimum temperature of 530 °C. This temperature could be achieved using electricity from renewable sources, or using a solar oven.

        • Peter Campbell

          Much better if you have LNG terminals to upgrade the cooling stage to accommodate hydrogen. LNG is -160°C and recent studies have stated that the overall efficiency/energy cost of a two-stage process to liquify hydrogen (-250°C) is just under 13% – not much considering the cost of a normal pipeline or other method. Japan have an LH2 terminal in Kobe now, and have a carrier (I presume) taking the first shipment in 2020.

          The issue with ammonia is that it is toxic, and making use of existing LNG cooling facilities could bring costs down overall – although this is mostly conjecture on part.

          Lots of mistakes made in the US regarding unused LNG terminals; about $48 billion in terminals sitting there largely unused.

  • BushAxe

    This is the perfect site with high RE, HV transmission line and major gas/water pipelines all running through the project site. I’d suggest that whatever hydrogen isn’t sold industrially will be pumped into the nearby gas main. The electrolyser would also be a good demand response load.

  • SA_Jack

    Giles, what are your thoughts on the potential for a hydrogen electrolyser of this scale playing a big demand response role in a grid like South Australia. Is it the sort of technology that can ramp up and down very quickly?
    If so, it strikes me that this proposal could play two key roles:
    1. produce a valuable exportable product from renewable energy generation that supports ongoing local production jobs.
    2. have the capacity, as both an industrial user and generator, to ramp down production in periods of high electricity demand to ensure the grid has a greater capacity to manage electricity needs for a fee.

    • Yes, agree. Still not clear which path, or mix, offers best returns to investors/developers.

      • RobertO

        Hi Giles, What is clear at this time is that RE will drive H2 pathways which will include Chemical use, Transport use (Fuell cells larger sizes) and process Heat (including Methane and or Biogas).

  • Craig

    Plenty of cheap fossil fuel available. Green energy is just a con….. oooooo wait global warming alert, more BS to create new energy market via fear and fake environmental modelling.

    • Nick

      Nope, it’s just science. Are you a flat Earther too, Craig?

      • Craig

        Depends on who you are, the earth is almost round based on satelite images…. but some greeny leftist might not agree, of course it would depend on what they have been told to think and believe.

        Are you worried about the starving polar bears from global warming?

        Unfortunately, the PB’s are not conforming to the science and scientists claims and predictions. Why scientists would never fake data for monetary gain, fame, attention or leftist influence, they are all moral people just like politicians.

        • Trent Deverell

          Mr Craig, stop wasting your time on this forum and dissapear back into Tony Abbott’s office and complain about your information being stuck in year 1951.. or was that 1851…..

    • Trent Deverell

      Non-renewables are called that for a reason….. they will run out, and if you haven’t noticed the costs are increasing and the difficulty of extraction is becoming challenging and a risk commitment should the well turn up dry….that is aside from environmental push-back……

      Further one only has to look at the carry-on when access to oil and gas becomes arises due to various conflicts.

      Do you remember the 70’s oil crisis, the Iraq wars…. some may claim the current Syrian conflict came about due to a dispute over who gets to build the gas pipelines to Europe.

      On the other hand wind and solar are generally available in most places, along with hydro, geothermal, tidal in many places…..

      …. and then indirect fuels like bio-fuels and hydrogen can fill the energy gaps as per oil and conventional gas do now.

      I would suggest creating energy options other than oil, conventional gas and oil would actually benefit the often used term ‘world peace”…..

      But I am guessing Mr Craig has shares in Exxon and General Dynamics…. um…. self interest reins supreme!!!

    • solarguy

      How much is coal lobby paying you for these idiotic comments. Or is it that you are just an idiot!

      • Craig

        Yeap, just enjoying coal and gas demand rising along with the share price world wide. Hundreds of years of easy dino fuel to burn.

        Why pay a company to build something using SA tax? If it is so good and proven, then do it, Australia is not America who give billions to business like telsa to experiment.

        How are those telsa batteries going? Lasting 30 minutes at full capicity…..what a waste of money and still not helping peak blackouts. I have some hair growth lotion if you believe green is the answer, maybe in a hundred years, maybe.

        Coal, greening your plant. Enjoy your vegan lunch.

        • solarguy

          It’s confirmed. You’re an idiot!

          • Craig

            Ouch! Not very PC are you? Was your carbon neutral salad off?

          • solarguy

            Why don’t you take your coal, shovel and bucket, get on ya bike and piss off home. Then the adults can talk.

  • Rod

    I’d like to know a bit more about the long standing opposition to the wind farms. Is it just a few NIMBYs or is there really aesthetic vandalism or is it somewhere in between.
    As far as I can recall between Pt Pirie and Crystal Brook is a desolate wasteland.

    • mick

      palmer is another case the area was wrecked during drought in the 1930s when wood cutters dropped most of the trees to feed sheep,14″rainfall/annually friable soils and lots of wind erosion with more sheep/cropping means the area never recovered to what it was yet nimby ism based on visual grounds is being used to stall wind development in court

      • Rod

        Yes, a story in the Murdock rag says the Palmer farm was approved by the court with only the Supreme court option stopping the project now. Where is the money coming from for these challenges I wonder. I’ve been wrestling pigs on the Advertiser forum pushing the pro renewables line 😉

        • mick

          gillon mclauchlan was the biggest noise initally but i dont know if he followed through,nutjob central (stop these things)stuck their oar in too

          • Rod

            He got paid out. Undisclosed amount. And yes many making noise aren’t locals.

  • Peter Campbell

    This is really good news, Australia are really going to make this work and proves that this is going to be profitable with so little subsidies. Because there is wind and sun this will give the electrolysers a high utilisation rate – although doing some figures recently I realised that the capex for the electrolysers isn’t actually that much in comparison to the cost of the electricity over say a twenty year operating life. So in this way you could have ‘just solar’ and half the utilisation rate and this only adds 15% or so to the cost of the hydrogen produced. In combination with a high gas price in both Australia and Japan this is going to be a perfect market. Figures I looked at recently from a Dutch study put the electricity cost at €25/MWh to compete with an average global price for hydrogen via SMR – so not not much more than this to compete with nat gas and then obviously with the higher prices there they have the market. Its really excellent news.

    The best way Europe could do this and compete with these costs at present is via curtailment – and the figures do work out; for example as the EU approaches 50-60% RE there is likely to be at least 20% curtailment depending on how much transmission cabling we want to deal with it all. If we don’t want the transmission cabling; electrolysing it and storing it is a very sensible option *even though the utilisation rate of the electrolysers may be only 35%* – because the capex for the electrolysers is so low compared to the cost of the electricity itself. Its really interesting and I’m surprised there are not more complete models available to look at regarding these figures.

    At a utilisation rate of say 35% and a low electricity price (for the otherwise curtailed wind energy) this should comfortably win against SMR hydrogen. I was actually quite surprised. So at a high RE % in Europe, this easily powers all European fuel cell transport, for example, and probably a large percentage of domestic heating if this is only required in large amounts during the winter. Industrial users I expect will probably ship it in from Saudi Arabia at that stage, and I’d say the figures would work out fairly similarly given the economic advantage of domestic production. That is if the Saudis have the prescience to build on the LNG infrastructure they have, and if European industry realises the advantages of stable prices and the climate impact that intelligent policy will have.

  • Geoff Pettett

    Your got to be Joking, we are crowing about a water cracking plant as the next great energy/ environment boost. In this solar system and others we search desperately for planets with water and air and yet on our own planet we are going to crack pure water into hydrogen to burn. We are actually going to burn water which is the holy grail for scientist but its the one element that can’t be replaced nor replicated. Fossil fuels can be remade, admittedly it takes a long time. But water cant and as the world is facing more droughts and water security is a world wide hot political topic that wars will result from. Every critter on this planet down to the humble worm needs water to survive and yet the animal supposedly with the greatest intelligence is going to burn the life giving substance called water.

    • Mark Fowler

      Only problem with your argument is that when the hydrogen is burnt it returns to water. Just a short term cycle from water to hydrogen and back to water.

    • RobertO

      Hi Geoff Pettett, and if we do find water (H20) we can use it to make rocket fuel, use it to support extra life there and support the new colonies. We need to knowledge of how it works in our world so we are only transporting knowledge not weight (of water).

  • I was baffled by this: “… which converts electricity to hydrogen.” I had so far learned that you need water, as in the H for H2O, … but I am sure someone will soon explain. I have gone past Crystal Brook a couple of times; they do not have fresh water in abundance, I think. Must be groundwater, also limited, or seawater. Which means they are mining salt at the same time?

    Any energy that pumps out less fumes is good.

  • Adrian Ingleby

    Giles, I am involved in the fight against Coal Seam Gas extraction on environmental grounds. I and no doubt, many others like me are interested in knowing if the Hydrogen gas produced from this or similar plants would be cheaper, cost competitive or more expensive than the current “unconventional gas” [coal seam gas – aka fracking] projects now drilling in Qld? Additionally for we mugs, who know nothing about chemistry & associated things. How much water is used in the process? Is all the water that goes in used? As stated by Mark Fowler, is all the hydrogen actually returned to water when burned? Would you be prepared to interview an “expert” in the Hydrogen field in regard to the argument “Can Hydrogen production viably replace Coal Seam Gas extraction” – covering in basic terms what happens at the Hydrogen plant and obtain an opinion as to whether or not hydrogen has the potential to replace Coal Seam Gas extraction in Australia on business terms. Hydrogen is a non-pollutant and doesn’t have to be drilled out of the ground. If hydrogen can compete on price, surely the politicians will see that it is a better way for Australia to go than continuing with the toxic fracking process.

    • RobertO

      Hi Adrian Ingleby
      Read this first
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural-gas_processing
      At this time Fracking is possibly cheaper than any other process (CH4 or Methane Gas or Natural Gas) to make H2 into CH4 or Methane but there are factors which are starting to change the economy of fracking. Local resistance to fracking is one of those factors (Is it safe, does it affect the water table and all the other questions). On the other side you have the costs of RE dropping and lots of companies starting to look at the economy of producing H2 from water which in theory is able to be made into Methane (we will need to know these process if we are to leave this earth and are able to find water on the Moon or Mars). Over the next few years as RE becomes cheaper H2 manufacturing will be cheaper and it’s first most commonly usage point will be in Natural Gas lines (H2 inserted at up to 10% by volume). Fuel Cells use H2 + O2 (from the air) to return the H2 to water (they produce electricity and some heat. Some will be stationary and use as electrical generators and some will be in transport. As the RE revolution happens there will be periods when RE produces more RE that we can use, including charging batteries or Pump Hydro or transport batteries then making H2 is the next best option. The water can be from anywhere, it will be clean up (filtered and/ or treated). Electrical current will be applied to water molecules to separate them into H2 and O2 via a water bath with some type electrolyte in solution (and people are searching for better methods for production). In the longer term as RE replaces Fossil Fuels then yes the H2 will be made into CH4 and use as process heat (possibly longer than 10 years’ time) The changeover will be simple economics combined with resistance to Fossil Fuels. Our current Fed Gov is anti RE and we will need to change them. Labour have currently stated that they will have a target of 50% RE, but I think that simple economics will over ride their plans (Solar in Australia added 1 GW last year and I think we will add a lot more this year)

    • Hydrogen First

      It has already been done and tested
      Two largest electrolyser plants worldwide Rjukan, Norway 1927 – 1970’s; Glomfjord, Norway 1953 – 1991
      Capacity: 30 000 Nm^3 /h each
      Energy consumption: approximately 135 MW each
      Supplied by renewable hydro power
      Those plants had worked for decades.
      glomfjordhydrogen. no/webimages/dynamic/2016-12-02_14-21-33_foto001. jpg

      It all depends on electricity prices.

      • Adrian Ingleby

        Thanks, lets hope it kicks on here in the antipodes.

        • Hydrogen First

          iea. org/newsroom/news/2017/april/producing-industrial-hydrogen-from-renewable-energy. html

          iea. org/media/news/2017/Fertilizer_manufacturing_Renewables_01102017. pdf

  • saugato mukerji

    Why not convert the hydrogen back to electricity with fuel cells. A fleet of hydrogen based cars/buses fuel cells with could provide this service when not on the road (i.e. at night). This is probably better than storing the energy in batteries, especially if the cost of fuel cells falls faster than batteries in the next decade. What is the cost of a battery farm scale fuel cell.

    Can the electrolysers themselves be redesigned to be large scale fuel cells. This would truly enable the hydrogen that is produced, to be used for national energy storage, which can be swiftly converted back to electricity and dispatched fulfilling the same function as a battery farm or pumped hydro.

    The hydrogen and oxygen produced during the electrolysis can also be used to improve the efficiency of combustion in industrial furnaces/boilers and fossil fuel power plant boilers. Investigating co-firing of coal/gas/oil with H2 using oxygen or oxygen enriched air is a good idea.

    Oxygen firing of fossil fuel is worth doing on its own as a means of improving combustion efficiency by reducing flue gas energy losses. It is well known oxygen instead of air improved combustion efficiency as Nitrogen in the air can not carry off useful heat. It may make sense to locate the Electrolyser close to where the oxygen can be used for improving combustion efficiency.

    • Hydrogen First

      >Can the electrolysers themselves be redesigned to be large scale fuel cells.
      The idea is not new
      fuelcellsworks. com/news/sylven-fuel-cell-technology-at-the-heart-of-project-reflex

    • RobertO

      Hi saugato mukerji, there is a lot of research going on into the H2 cycle, Currently it appears that Fuel Cells will be part of our future mainly in larger transport and some in stationary mode. At this time batteries for mobile fuel cells are required. Some stationary fuel cells will also be heat recovery units (cooler climate such as close to the poles). In Australia adding H2 to the natural Gas network in say Qld and then extracting the H2 gas in South Australia may also be a pathway to transmit electricity from solar southwards using fuel cells in SA.. Some European companies are working on making hydro carbon mixtures (Petrol or Diesel) from the RE network (cheap electricity) converting Water and Carbon Dioxide. The Natural Gas can be replaced with man made Methane (CH4). All this research is being driven by cheap electricity from RE to replace our use of Fossel Fuels (mostly oversea as Australia has no cheap electricity yet). The main point is the cost (economics) is the driver not the efficiency of the process, but if someone can improve the efficiency of a process that is economic they will make more money.

      • Peter Campbell

        This is exactly correct. 5 main factors influence the use of electrolysed hydrogen over natural gas & fossil vehicle fuels in Europe: 1) subsidies are 25% given the extreme price volatility inherent over many decades, between 200-500% is not unusual 2) domestic production is a cost reduction, although eventually I imagine we will import H2 from the middle east as we don’t have the RE at low enough cost & in unlimited volume 3) fuel cell efficiencies reduce demand by 40% 4) a 20% discount rate can be applied as all costs are up front, given 1% pa inflation 5) curtailment will become more and more of a factor as the RE % increases, and electrolyser capex is low in comparison to the electricity cost.

        So this is what is going to make domestic hydrogen production profitable in the EU; however at the very low solar costs in the UAE at present it would be cheaper in many instances to import solar now if such an option were available.

    • Peter Campbell

      The electricity>hydrogen>electricity efficiency isn’t great unless you have a very high renewable electricity percentage and you have curtailment, or you have no direct use for the hydrogen. Its better to utilise the hydrogen directly although as soon as the RE percentage reaches 50-60% there is likely to be extended periods of low cost electricity which make the round trip efficiencies worthwhile.

      Having said this, building a gas-fired peaker plant for limited use is probably the same as building a large-scale fuel cell for limited use (costs have fallen a lot) and given the major cost is the plant (capex) then it doesn’t really matter about the efficiencies; you just need to produce the electricity in large quantity for a short period. A slightly higher overall electricity cost is not the issue given the limited periods it will be in use, and the low base price of the stored electricity to begin with.

      There is the possibility of being too fussy and forgetting the major expenses, and the usefulness of adopting these technologies.

      This is underlined by the many advantages of fuel cells over turbines including zero emissions so they don’t need miles of cabling.

      So, the practicality of gas as both a storage medium and as an industry process that cannot be substituted with electricity (direct reduction of iron, for example) makes gas the more viable option, in general.

      In many ways most people are just used to natural gas being low cost and electricity being much higher cost. This is being reversed now so a) we can make gas out of electricity b) it is useful to do this as gas is a lot more practical than electricity in many respects.

      The usefulness of gas extends to its storability, its transportability via pipes at different pressures, its industry utilisation as mentioned, and its domestic heating potential given peaks in demand, in many regions.

      Hydrogen as a feedstock (ammonia & chemicals; soon to be zero-carbon) is the first and best use of the gas until more transport applications become available; then it can be used in other areas either as-is or with limited retrofitting, and eventually it could be methanated if your gas network is still metal and not plastic (which may lead to some leakage here and there). Remembering however, that ‘town gas’ was used in Europe right up to the 70s in metal pipes, with 50% hydrogen – its not that unsafe.

      • Hydrogen First

        When heat is captured during electrolysys mode and then released during fuel cell operation mode the efficiency can be 55-60% that is probably not much worse than pumped hydro

        Endothermic operation of an r-SOC stack in SOEC operation mode can lead to higher roundtrip efficiency. Endothermic operation in SOEC mode requires thermal energy supply. A thermal energy storage system to store high temperature heat released during the SOFC operation to supply heat with high exergy content for the endothermic SOEC process was investigated. A system roundtrip efficiency around 55%–60% is achievable with current ESC type r-SOC technology whereas the theoretical limit of roundtrip efficiency for an ideal reactor (no ohmic, activation and diffusion losses) is around 98% for the same operating conditions. Endothermic operation is beneficial and a heat storage concept is an attractive approach for a prototype system.

        sciencedirect. com/science/article/pii/S036054421731602X