The NSW Government says cleaned water from the state’s wastewater treatment plants could be critical to realising its ambitions on green hydrogen.
Hydrogen can be produced by using electricity to “split” water into hydrogen and oxygen. Much emphasis has been placed on the source of electricity used to produce hydrogen, such as wind and solar.
Today the NSW government indicated that the source of water will also be a critical component in realising its ambitious hydrogen strategy.
“We are very aware of the use of sustainable water resources and believe the connection to wastewater will be a key area of growth in the hydrogen economy,” Tim Stock, the government’s hydrogen and clean energy project director, told the Smart Energy Council’s NSW state summit on Tuesday.
With parts of NSW still drought affected or recovering after the prolonged 2019-20 drought, Stock presented a map identifying wastewater treatment plants as a key feature in a future hydrogen economy.
The map for an ‘integrated hydrogen economy’ pinpoints proposed hydrogen hubs and ports, renewable energy zones and existing wastewater treatment plants. The map also identifies so-called ‘special activation precincts’ which are dedicated areas for new commercial and industrial infrastructure.
In his opening address to the summit, state energy minister Matt Kean said: “The future possibilities of hydrogen as an energy source are incredible.
But he lamented the fact most of the hydrogen used in New South Sales is grey hydrogen, produced by using fossil fuels. “Replacing that with clean and green hydrogen could help drive a new energy boom,” he said.
Kean said accelerating that process is one of the key goals of the net zero industry and innovation program, and its $70 million to develop hydrogen hubs in the Hunter Valley and Illawarra.
During the 2019-20 drought, water storage levels in the Lower Hunter dropped to 52%, their lowest levels in 40 years.
The use of treated water from wastewater treatment plants provides a potential source of water for the proposed hydrogen industry without competing with critical water supplies for drinking or agriculture.
Last year consultancy Jacobs partnered with Yarra Valley Water to released a paper on the role of wastewater treatment plants in an Australian hydrogen industry.
The paper found in addition to wastewater plants providing a reliable source of treated water for the industry, the process of wastewater treatment can make use of the pure oxygen that is a by-product of making hydrogen.
The NSW government anticipates launching its hydrogen strategy in late October or early November this year.