S.A. to host Australia's first green hydrogen power plant | RenewEconomy

S.A. to host Australia’s first green hydrogen power plant

South Australia government to help fund Australia’s first renewable-powered hydrogen electrolyser plant – a 15MW facility to be built at Port Lincoln, along with a 10MW hydrogen-fired gas turbine, fuelled wind and solar, and a 5MW hydrogen fuel cell.


The South Australia government has announced funding for what will be Australia’s first renewable-hydrogen electrolyser plant – a 15MW facility to be built near the end of the grid at Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula.

The “green hydrogen” plant – to be built by Hydrogen Utility (H2U), working with Germany’s thyssenkrupp – will include a 10MW hydrogen-fired gas turbine, fuelled by local wind and solar power, and a 5MW hydrogen fuel cell.

Both will supply power to the grid, will support two new solar farms and a local micro-grid, and will also include “distributed ammonia” that can be used as an industrial fertiliser for farmers and aquaculture operators.

The $117.5 million project, which will receive a $4.7 million grant and a $7.5 million loan from South Australia’s Renewable Technology Fund, is being described as a “globally-significant demonstrator project” for the emerging hydrogen energy sector.

It is the second biggest facility of its type, will boast the biggest hydrogen-supported turbine, and will also be the largest supplier of “green ammonia” in the world.

Hydrogen has often been dismissed as a viable technology because of the recent gains of electric vehicles and battery storage, but its proponents believe that it can create export industries to rival that of natural gas, and its added value chain can make it extremely valuable in the domestic market.

“More renewable energy means cheaper power and the ability to store renewables means the benefits of that cheap power can be experienced around the clock,” energy minister Tom Koutsantonis said in a statement.

“Hydrogen also offers an opportunity to create a new industry in South Australia where we can export our sun and wind resources to the world.”

The announcement continues a late rush of pre-election funding initiatives by the Labor government in the last few weeks, including for microgrids, virtual power plants, more grid-scale batteries, and five potential pumped hydro projects, scaling the range of storage options.

South Australia, which goes to the polls in little more than four weeks, already sources half of its electricity needs from wind and solar and will soon source even more as new projects come on-line, and hydrogen is seen as a major new opportunity.

“South Australia is at the global forefront of a broad range of storage technology, from big batteries, to virtual power plants to pumped hydro – now we will also be home to one of the largest hydrogen production facilities in the world as well,” Koutsantonis said.

The project at Port Lincoln will be nearly 10 times bigger than an electrolyser planned by the ACT government as part of its push to source 100 per cent of its electricity needs through renewable energy.

Hydrogen is produced through a process called electrolysis which, in this case, uses surplus renewable energy from wind and solar plants to power an electrolyser to split clean water into hydrogen and oxygen.

That hydrogen can then be used to power fuel cell vehicles, make ammonia, generate electricity in a turbine or fuel cell, supply industry, or to export around the world.

H2U chief executive Dr Attilio Pigneri said the hydrogen gas plant and fuel cell will be able to provide balancing services to the national transmission grid, as well as fast frequency response support for new solar plants under development in the Eyre Peninsula.

Pigneri told RenewEconomy the electrolyser itself will provide fast response in the range of milliseconds, while the gas turbine and the fuel cell can put power into the grid.

He sees hydrogen as a viable competitor to battery storage for “end-of-grid” solutions, particularly from its ability to generate additional income streams such as ammonia.

Asked about the skepticism surround hydrogen technologies, Pigneri said there was a “lot of momentum for batteries, but hydrogen technology is quite robust   .. it may provide a more effective option than batteries, because you can store as much as you want.”

The Port Lincoln facility will store 10 tonnes of hydrogen, equivalent to 200MWh.

It will support two new solar farms and a 5MW micro-grid to be built by a local tuna operator – many of which have been frustrated by recent blackouts, and the failure of the ageing diesel generators.

It will also supply green ammonia and other chemicals to local farmers and aquaculture operators.

“The project will provide the perfect training ground for a new wave of green hydrogen professionals,” Pigneri said in a statement.

“We are very lucky to be able to work with local academic institutions, such as the University of Adelaide, and the local energy market regulator, towards the establishment of training programs for certified operators, technicians and professionals that can support the growth of the industry.”

The project is supported by the local industry and community, including Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP), the transmission network operator ElectraNet, and the South Australia No-Till Farmers Association (SANTFA).

RDAWEP Chief Executive Dion Forward said innovative thinking like hydrogen storage would help provide pathways for addressing regional challenges in the reliability and quality of electricity supply.

“This project represents the things that we do best, collaborating to share innovation across many industries including energy, transport, education, farming, fishing and food production to be more sustainable and globally competitive,” Forward in a statement.

“Power firming initiatives are vital to improving liveability and strengthening the competitiveness of our existing industries.

“This project addresses these issues and offers so much more, the establishment of new supply chain capabilities will help the region to further diversify and prosper from the opportunities associated with growth in the green hydrogen economy.”

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  1. Joe 3 years ago

    Premier Jay and SA doing it again.

    • johannes 3 years ago

      I know there’s an election imminent, but is Premier Jay on speed or something? This avalanche of green energy initiatives is almost too fast to keep up with. South Australians should be proud of their state’s leadership position on renewables.

      • rob 3 years ago

        unfortunately MY JAY AND TOM are unlikely to win this election……..such a shame……oh and by the way yes and I’m his dealer ….lol

        • rob 3 years ago

          but seriously I think he is locking in so many contracts as possible b4 the power moved to the absolutely useless liberals here and the scum Zenophobia

          • Rod 3 years ago

            I think you are correct on both accounts.
            I can’t wait for the LNP or NXT to claim success in bringing wholesale prices down when all this RE is installed and doing what we know it will. GRRRRR

        • Matthew 3 years ago

          I wouldn’t write Jay off yet. People who are capable of thinking can see that he is no show pony.

    • Nick 3 years ago

      Good on them!

  2. Eb 3 years ago

    It would be useful if links were provided to the media releases, though searching the SA Govt website reveals no further info yet. How is the hydrogen to be stored? 10 tonnes of hydrogen has a Lower Heating Value of ~1,200 GJ. So a rough 60% conversion efficiency to ~200 MWh of electricity has been used. Is this for the 5 MW fuel cell or the 10 MW hydrogen turbine or is it just meant to be indicative?
    Also interested in the forecast timeline for finding the other ~$105m required to reach financial close.

    • DJR96 3 years ago

      Yes, I’d like to know what the round trip efficiency is like too?
      Any combustion process is woefully inefficient to start with, but the fuel cell is much more interesting……

      • MaxG 3 years ago

        And then who cares about round trip efficiency? Since you’re not paying for any input, it does not really matter…

        • My_Oath 3 years ago

          Of course round trip efficiency matters.

          You have a solar and wind farm that can put 100 bits of electricity into the grid.

          Or you can put that 100 bits of electricity into a $100m plant that produces 40 bits of electricity that go into the grid.

          Round trip efficiency matters a whole lot.

          • TomTX 3 years ago

            It’s hard to economically justify hydrogen for grid electricity storage if you don’t assume free or nearly-free electricity.

          • MaxG 3 years ago

            I was assuming common sense with this statement; and find anything >80% should be OK.
            If I gave you 10,000 dollars, you would not care, whether I had invested 1 million to make the 10 grant. Hence, my argument: since the input is free, it does not matter, other than for accounting purposes what the round trip efficiency is.

          • My_Oath 3 years ago

            The input isn’t free though. It can be sold to the grid at a greater efficiency.

        • DJR96 3 years ago

          Efficiency is important because whatever is lost is ultimately lost revenue. And the bigger the scale of the system the more it’s going to matter. Big dollars.

  3. Chris Jones 3 years ago

    They only want hydrogen production because it’s a potential export industry. As an energy carrier – it’s bloody woeful.

    • johannes 3 years ago

      But at least H2 can be stored for use when other energy sources are lacking, and it can be moved around to where it might be needed more, so it’s not a bad option. Also, see http://www.riversimple.com.

    • Michael Murray 3 years ago

      What else would you use in a fossil fuel free economy that was more efficient to sell our sunshine overseas ? Assuming no HVDC cable I guess.

      • Chris Jones 3 years ago

        Oh I completely get it – we currently export energy in the form of coal, but when that’s over, I suspect natural gas will be a major energy export industry for about another decade. HVDC into cloudy Indonesia would be ideal.

        • Tom 3 years ago

          Except the transmission infrastructure would cost more than the generation infrastructure (HVDC into Indonesia).

      • Sir Pete o Possums Reek 3 years ago

        Michael have read of this…


        Essentially an easier way of moving hydrogen and or precursors for other industrial uses.

        I’m not sure _this_ announcement is about ammonia/m used as an export like this as it looks to me like this project aims to exploit the H2 locally.

        • Michael Murray 3 years ago


      • TomTX 3 years ago

        Well, you can use the Sabatier process to turn the hydrogen into natural gas. The energy cost is about the same as compressing the hydrogen to storage pressure.

        • wideEyedPupil 3 years ago

          Then you have combustion of CO2 and fugitive methane to deal with… not best option by far.

          • TomTX 3 years ago

            Net zero on the CO2. The inputs for the Sabatier process are CO2 and hydrogen.

            Fugitive methane is still an issue.

            Batteries are the simpler, cheaper solution for day-to-day energy storage anyway.

            Sabatier NG has the advantage of using existing transportation, storage and electricity production infrastructure – making it more suitable for seasonal energy storage.

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            And the energy cost of scrubbing CO2 from the air to concentrate it enough for Sabatier process.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Isn’t it marvellous?! Stick a penal in the ground, do some electrolysis, and end sell some energy… literally out of thin air and sunshine — it can’t get better than this!

  4. Hettie 3 years ago

    I’m slowly coming round to the idea that H2 is not such a bad notion.
    Still don’t like it much for cars, though I concede that petrol and lpg are explosive too, and that a H2 accident just burns to water vapour.
    The idea of using surplus industrial wind and solar to power the electrolysis, then burning some the H2 to smooth the intermittencies seems pretty cool, but what are the efficiencies?
    Then again, cf PHES, no topographical requirements, no pipes up and down…… PHES and H2 both need turbines too.
    Colour me convinced.

    • remoteone 3 years ago

      Liquid hydrogen holds more energy per kg than jet fuel and has been considered by some aircraft designers as a long term alternative for aviation. There may be some interesting spinoffs from this initiative in SA!

      • Tom 3 years ago

        More energy per kg – yes – but 1 kg of liquid hydrogen occupies about 12 litres. Most Earthen storage doesn’t really care how much things weigh, they care how big they have to build the supercooled and pressurised tanks.

        Not that I think it is a terrible idea – maybe it has merit, but I’ve got my doubts that this is the energy storage technology of the future. Even resistance thermal storage (molten salt or rock) then steam regeneration is more efficient than running hydrogen through gas turbines, and without all the storage costs. The fuel cell idea is interesting though, but I still don’t think it has legs.

        Methanol would be an ideal albeit inefficient storage fuel (although only half as energy dense as petrol – it doesn’t matter so much if it’s a liquid), but to be renewable you need to get the carbon from somewhere. Biomass waste (crop stubble etc) might be an option, but capturing it from the air would be the gold standard. When CO2 is only 0.04% of the air it is difficult (although it’s 40% easier now than it used to be when CO2 was only 0.027% of the air).

        • remoteone 3 years ago

          Liquid hydrogen does take up more space than jet fuel, by a factor of about four (Joules per litre). Where weight overrides volume as a concern, it needs to be thought about, particularly if a lot of it is going to be made through solar/wind, in which case the third dimension for rating it will be dollars per MJ.
          Looking at the data on ethanol vs methanol, they are both really attractive (maybe ethanol a tad better than methanol) but rather than sidelining carbon, as a hydrogen fuel would do, they maintain a carbon cycle’s involvement in air. I guess it all depends on how desperate we get over global warming!?

          • TomTX 3 years ago

            Liquid hydrogen? Liquefaction of compressed hydrogen is an energy intensive, demanding, multistep process – there’s a reason that almost nobody except rocket engineers uses liquid hydrogen.

    • wideEyedPupil 3 years ago

      Fuel cells are not turbines. Apparently this scheme will have a 5 MW Fuel cell and a 10 MW H2 turbine. I’m wondering if the turbine will burn pure H2 or a mix of H2 and methane or some other fuel? If they’re making ammonia, NH3, then maybe they are going to burn that in the turbine?

    • My_Oath 3 years ago

      I can see H2 being important for shipping, and possibly for long distance rail, but I really can’t see it getting too much traction in other sectors.

      And as for electrolysis, there is I think too much competition from other H2 sources (where H2 is a waste product and sent to exhaust) for it to gain too much traction in the big picture.

      • neroden 3 years ago

        Many of the other H2 sources I know for industrial chemistry, in the end, are oil-derived. This isn’t sustainable, so we do need another way. (I guess some other industrial chemistry methods generate hydrogen, as noted below by Ian, but I have heard that a huge quantity is from oil refineries.)

    • TomTX 3 years ago

      Hydrogen isn’t bad per se – but there are much cheaper ways of dealing with excess electricity. Demand response is one, adding a small battery at the production site is another:


      Adding a small 4MW/16MWh battery is expected to increase useful output by 500MWh per year – output that would otherwise be “clipped” (wasted). in addition to providing grid services. Details in the story.

    • neroden 3 years ago

      Hydrogen’s simply a poor way to store energy. It’s a useful chemical.

      I hope this scheme ends up focusing on selling hydrogen for its industrial chemistry applications. Because it is very important for industry chemistry and currently we get nearly all of it from oil refineries, which is not sustainable.

      The reneawable ammonia plant in this plan makes me think that they may be seriously thinking about this.

  5. Gordon 3 years ago

    >>“distributed ammonia” that can be used as an industrial fertiliser for farmers and aquaculture operators.

    I’m wondering what use it has in aquaculture, as the usual aim is to minimise ammonia in the water, as it is toxic to fish at the ppm level, particularly at warmer temperatures and at higher pH.

    • Sir Pete o Possums Reek 3 years ago

      Yes. I was wondering much the same.
      Agriculture sure.
      Maybe it’s to grow algae as a feed source ?
      g u e s s i n g

      • Askgerbil Now 3 years ago

        “Monoammonium phosphate (MAP) fertiliser is a widely used source of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N)” http://www.cropnutrition.com/monoammonium-phosphate

        • Sir Pete o Possums Reek 3 years ago


          So the ammonia is used as a precursor along with phosphorous, to produce feedstock for the aquaculture animals (so um fish).

          A high purity source of MAP is used as a feed ingredient for animals. The NH4+ is synthesized into protein and the H2PO4- supports a variety of metabolic functions in animals.

  6. Malcolm M 3 years ago

    This is of significance to companies that use natural gas as a feedstock for ammonia production. Incitec-Pivot have an ammonia plant at their Phosphate Hill mine near Mount Isa. If they can’t get a suitable gas supply contract when their current contract finishes about 2020, they would close the mine and plant, and Australia would become a net importer of phosphate fertilisers. But if a combination of solar plus green ammonia is cost-competitive, the plant would continue to be viable.

  7. Jon 3 years ago

    From the work I’ve seen from Germany power prices need to be very low for this to be economic if converted back into electricity.
    I like that there is a plant being built to learn from but think the economics will struggle with the current technology.
    Guessing there will be a desalination plant feeding the electroluser?

  8. Radbug 3 years ago

    Next, take SAGASCO’s reticulation map for Adelaide and duplicate it, in reverse, to construct, step by step, a carbon dioxide return network. In addition to Adelaide’s filtered grey & sewerage waste water, the CO2 can then be either piped or liquefied and transported to the hydrogen to produce methanol or ethanol solar fuel, which can then be tankered anywhere. Further, this project can be the prototype for the Pilbara giant methanol solar array. This development in Port Lincoln will change the world.

    • Tom 3 years ago

      +1. I wonder how hard “carbon capture” is, given that “carbon capture and storage” has been such a failure. If it is the storage part that has been the problem, then this might well have merit.

      • Ian 3 years ago

        Unfortunately storage is easy.

        • Tom 3 years ago


      • neroden 3 years ago

        “Carbon capture” is better referred to as “carbon fixation”, and plants do it every day. Unfortunately we’re not very good at doing it by any other means.

  9. Bristolboy 3 years ago

    To me the real benefit of hydrogen is for medium and long term storage. In many parts of the world, including Europe and NE America, energy demand peaks in winter yet solar generation peaks in summer; wind is also intermittent. Until hydrogen or another form of long term storage is economically viable there will be an upper limit to renewable penetration in such countries.

    • wideEyedPupil 3 years ago

      Anybodies guess where the competing learning curves are by the time most of the worlds our grids are hitting 85%+ RE. (on WA’s SWIS grid 15% generation from gas turbines — be it fossil or biofuel — can cover all the gaps in winter).

    • TomTX 3 years ago

      Offshore NE America has near-constant, high-quality wind in the wintertime. Plus they’re building a new 1GW transmission line to Quebec Hydro.

      Hydrogen is expensive to make, thermodynamically inefficient as energy storage, and challenging to handle.

      Having another valuable output for hydrogen production (ammonia) makes a LOT of sense.

      • Bristolboy 3 years ago

        The problem is “near-constant”. From what I understand NE America is similar to NW Europe eg generally windy in the winter but there can be periods of several days or even a week with low winds.

        • TomTX 3 years ago

          Thus having some battery storage along with connections to Quebec Hydro, which stores up to 276 TWh.

    • My_Oath 3 years ago

      The problem with medium or long term storage of H2 is metal embrittlement. You can’t just pump it into any old tank and expect the H2 to still be there in the tank when you decide to use it.

      Of course, technological developments happen, and considerable research ongoing into the issue,but as it stands, H2 storage is an expensive and difficult option.

      • Bristolboy 3 years ago

        Agreed, technological improvements are required. I’m not claiming that hydrogen will definitely be the solution to seasonal storage, I just think hydrogen has much more chance of being used for seasonal storage than intra-day storage.

      • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

        that’s why conversion to other liquid fuels is a potential way around that science/technology problem.

  10. Kay Schieren 3 years ago

    If the salt water can be split with solar energy, hydrogen can provide some practical and efficient energy sources – especially if efficiency in the water splitting process can be achieved with simulated photosynthesis – there are some people working on this around the world. I hope to be doing it at home with a hydrogen on demand setup using solar – cooking, blacksmithing and brazing, etc., powered with water. I have already worked a simple electrolysis system, which, when powered by solar and batteries, can replace bottled gas. I live alone, and am just so busy at 69, I need some help to get it finished and set up in my unfinished new kitchen – with my own gas supply I will be almost 100% on renewables in my off grid home.

    • Hettie 3 years ago

      Sounds exciting! Where in the world are you? You might find that someone on this thread would pt a hand up to help you if you say where you are.

      • Kay Schieren 3 years ago

        Hi Hettie – I am in Victoria at W Tree, East Gippsland 3885 – it’s pretty much a backwater for local interest in this kind of project. I’m the local curiosity, I think, although others are on solar stand-alone, but more into food and dope than technology for fun and innovation. I’d be happy to put someone up here, in a caravan or hut, if they had the initiative and wasn’t a dope head, etc., and was motivated to help run this place, and learn. Can’t offer ownership, only residence for free. And local food and stuff is also available. Plus I have my own remote internet access point with a very good referred signal. I learn off the net, and from doing stuff. I have made many mistakes, and if someone is willing to take some direction, they can avoid them a second time. FACEBOOK: Kay Schieren and email [email protected] if anyone wants to check me out. taa

        • Hettie 3 years ago

          You should be able to find a suitable person through a home share site. Cast your net wide, because your offer is far from run of the mill.
          I’d suggest that you stress what you see as the advantages of your offer to the sort of person you want. Try to think from that person’s point of view, what’s in it for them.
          Good luck.

  11. Tim Kelly 3 years ago

    Giles Parkinson again makes bold claims relating to renewables without providing the detail on whether this surplus electricity will include LGCs to be voluntarily surrendered to the CER. what does “Green hydrogen” actually mean? In the absence of an NGER or RET legislation to legally allocate renewables to end users, the convention of a renewable use claim has been to surrender the LGCs.
    I would like to have the discussion as to what does or should constitute use of renewables, but this has not been supported.
    So in the mean time, I ask that if Renew Economy choose to report Green Hydrogen or that an organisation is establishing a Renewable PPA, please just disclose the treatment of LGCs or clarify that the consumption is as accredited GreenPower.

    • Michael Murray 3 years ago

      According to wikipedia most industrial hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas by converting steam and methane to hydrogen and carbon monoxide. I imagine that is not regarded as green. In contrast the plan above is to use electrolysis of water powered by solar and wind.

      • Tim Kelly 3 years ago

        Different issue.
        This issue is about the right to claim that the hydrogen production is from renewable energy. It is murky at best as there is no legislation that allocates any type of electricity to end users regardless of contracts. However, the convention is that to claim renewables the Large Scale Renewable Energy Certificates must be voluntarily retired and not used to meet mandatory obligations or sold to third parties where they can be used for another claim or to create accredited GreenPower. The ACCC established this convention nearly 13 years ago by warning WA Water Corporation to stop claiming that the electricity purchased from a wind farm was powering their desalination plant with zero eissions because the Renewable Energy Certificates had already been sold to other parties and all they were buying was electricity.
        So I call a GREENWASH ALERT. I cannot say that it is in fact greenwash without knowing what will happen to the certificates but we need to find out and Renew Economy should be reporting such detail with their news. If Renew Economy don’t agree with the current accounting and claims convention then we should start the discussion for reform. It is badly needed.

        • Giles 3 years ago

          Probably a moot point because the LGCs by the time this project is built will likely be worthless, or of declining and little value. I do have problems with hydrogen powered by brown coal – as some parties apparently propose – but if this is built in Port Lincoln, about as far as you can get from brown coal, and results in local solar farms, and more local wind, then it is pretty clear it is renewable.
          Some places like ACT retire the LGCs because they don’t want their efforts to go 100% to be used by other states to do less. So the ACT’s efforts adds to the percentage achieved under the RET and is not double counted.

          • Tim Kelly 3 years ago

            Until there is a change, this is very relevant. If the players are confident that the price of LGCs will drop to small change between 2020 and 2030, there is even more reason to expect that they will commit to surrender LGCs and demonstrate integrity, as the ACT have done and as GreenPower customers do.
            But there are also bigger issues and a need to reform the NGER and RET to clarify which customers can claim renewables use and lower emissions even without a RET. Your suggestion that the ACT does not double count is flawed because all the renewables are already allocated across all consumers in a state under the NGER NGA Factors.
            For example, the Hornsdale wind farm electricity generated in South Australia (contracted to the ACT) is already allocated across South Australian consumers using the NGER physical accounting approach. The ACT claim is a second count of the Hornsdale renewables through their contract which includes retirement of the LGCs through their GreenPower PPA.

            Claims like a “green hydrogen” plant if it does not include the retirement of LGCs can actually cause a third count, one across all customers, one to a GreenPower customer and one to a project that associates itself with a renewable generator.

            Are you happy with no legal allocation rules to guide end user claims and double or triple counting?

            I agree when the RET is achieved there will be significant market change but suggest that we should be planning for the change with NGER and RET reform now so we have basic legal rules.

          • Giles 3 years ago

            So The NGER NGA Factor document makes it pretty clear:
            “It should be noted that Renewable Energy Certificates and other emissions reduction programs are not used in the calculation of scope 2 emission factors. These programs may impact the emissions intensity of electricity generation but are not directly related to the calculation of scope 2 emission factors.”
            That’s something for accountants to argue about.
            A wind farm, or a solar farm, is renewable – and results in less fossil fuel generation than otherwise, whatever the accounting arguments.

          • Tim Kelly 3 years ago

            Yes, this is an accounting and allocation problem about who can claim what. Even within the flawed and contradictory frameworks, the NCOS does not allow renewable energy to be claimed as zero emissions if the LGCs have been sold to third parties. So the RECs are critical. The ACCC made this clear to WaterCorp 12 years ago and again, the ACCC punished Momentum Energy in recent years for claiming that the renewable energy they trying to sell was “renewable” because it did not have the LGCs from old hydro. If a company promotes RECless PPAs or products as renewable or green then this becomes very awkward and may attract ACCC interest.

          • RobertO 3 years ago

            Hi Tim Kelly, At this time LGC after 2020 will be worthless. There is no requirement for any retailer to buy LGC after that date. Some retailers are already have more LGC’s than they need and will not need to buy any more to meet their requirements. I have already factored in that if my pet project goes ahead my LGC’s will be $0.00 income even if their current price is around $80 (approx).

          • RobertO 3 years ago

            Hi Giles, There is also the problem of Port Lincoln on the end of the line and the two wind farms near there suffer some curtailment at time. I believe the SA Networks are aware of this project and were hoping that they would not need to upgrade the network from Port Lincoln to Whyalla or even up to Davenport. I believe they now have an upgrade planned.

  12. Ian 3 years ago

    Two names Harber and Ostwald. All that is needed to make the fertiliser ammonium nitrate is energy, water and air. Very nice. Distributed ammonia is probably a play on the words distributed solar generation or distributed behind the meter storage. You’d wonder how small this sort of chemical factory could be. Imagine a plug and play fertiliser generator located on a pasture or crop farm . All you add is purified water, solar energy and air – maybe like a pool chlorinator – out comes the fertiliser mixed with irrigation water. These people maybe onto something profoundly “gamechanging’

    • My_Oath 3 years ago

      “There are probably lots of other similar sorts of processes ”

      HAZER – LNG > C + H2.

      The developers actually want the carbon to manufacture synthetic graphite (for battery cathodes) and for industrial carbon fibre manufacturing (mining dump trucks and rail wagons – reduced weight means significant fuel use reductions).

      The H2 is a by product.

      • neroden 3 years ago

        Oh, interesting.

  13. Rochelle 3 years ago

    Hydrogen energy and storage is great. Ammonia is terribly unsustainable. The world has dangerously high levels of nitrogen in the environment due to the production of artificial fertilisers.

    • Electric Boogaloo 3 years ago

      80% of our atmosphere is nitrogen!

      • Rochelle 3 years ago

        Correct, and that’s fine when it’s in the atmosphere. It is a problem because we’ve extracted it from the atmosphere and put too much into our soils and water. It’s one of the major threats to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s also analogous to taking carbon out of the earth and putting too much into the atmosphere as CO2.

        • Electric Boogaloo 3 years ago

          We should stop growing legumes since they take nitrogen out of the atmosphere and put it into the soil where rain can leach it out into creeks and rivers and end up in the ocean!

          We need to stop all this nitrogen pollution ASAP!

          • palmz 3 years ago

            The main key with fertilizers is to use them efficiently and effectively. (less waste, in a number of forms) pretty much put on the right amount at the right times.

          • Electric Boogaloo 3 years ago

            Sigh. I guess I should make use the sarcasm tag…

  14. Ben Davies 3 years ago

    Most interesting. I would caution that hydrogen gas produced from electrolysis would be only about 70-80% efficient and the return step to electricity may lose another 30% so overall storage may only yield 50% efficiency (though you could extract useful heat too). Hydrogen gas also is reactive towards some metals and choice of pipeline material is important. Hydrogen gas will also diffuse though smaller gaps than most other gases except helium.

    Liquefying hydrogen is also energy intensive. However the LNG technology has probably ironed out all the technical issues.

    On the plus side hydrogen technology except for requirement for platinum metal for electrolysis is fairly basic and can be produced anywhere there is fresh water and an energy supply. Definitely worth looking at and maybe the best large scale transportable form of energy storage the world has.

    • TomTX 3 years ago

      Um, no. Liquefying hydrogen is far more challenging than LNG. Dry natural gas just needs to have the other hydrocarbons stripped out, then chill it. It liquefies.

      Hydrogen can’t even be cooled via adiabatic expansion unless you prechill it with liquid nitrogen.

      Even after you get it initially liquefied, you have a problem. It will mostly be the ortho spin-isomer (orthohydrogen – more stable at room temperature) and it will slowly convert itself to mostly the para spin-isomer (parahydrogen)

      Why is that a problem? It’s an exothermic process (gives off heat) – which will boil off a large percentage of the liquid hydrogen.

      After all that, you need to keep it at -253C or colder. This is nearly 100C colder than LNG, so boiloff is a FAR bigger problem.

      • Ben Davies 3 years ago

        Could be more difficult as you say but liquefying has been done for the space program since the 1960s in multi tonne scales. Don’t know about the costs. I guess if the Japanese, Chinese or Koreans really want hydrogen then they are going to have to pay for it. Maybe that’s why people are pressing for ammonia as a transportation medium – another energy loss.

        I can see advantages of hydrogen in that no scare resources (except for platinum or similar metals required for electrolysis) are consumed and it is non greenhouse polluting and non-toxic. By contrast Lithium and graphite for batteries are both very scarce and non-renewable.

        The downside of hydrogen in the energy losses at every step.

        No one said going green was going to be easy.

        • TomTX 3 years ago

          Neither lithium nor graphite is particularly scarce.

          Sure, liquefying hydrogen makes sense for rockets* – volume per mass for even liquid hydrogen is bad when you’re building a rocket. Typically those rockets use up the hydrogen within hours of being filled.

          It’s just far too expensive, energy-intensive and too difficult to keep liquid for grid storage or terrestrial transportation

          *It really makes sense for an upper stage in a rocket due to the unparalleled specific impulse. But the thrust is low, so it’s a questionable choice for a first stage.

  15. My_Oath 3 years ago

    H cells are a cool and interesting tech, but I have serious doubts about the economics.

    Solar/Wind > electricity > H2 generation > Storage > Fuel Cell > electricity.

    Why not Solar/Wind > electricity? Less steps means less efficiency losses. The key would appear to be the ammonia for the economics to stack up.

    The other key roadblock for H cells is the infrastructure requirement. H2 storage is not easy. An entirely new distribution and storage infrastructure network is required for it to go large scale as a tech.

    And electrolysis as a H2 source has significant competition for natural gas cracking. There is an Australian tech that generates its H2 from LNG with carbon as a by-product, The carbon part of the process is so economically important that it has attracted funding from a backer that just wants the carbon and don’t even care what happens to the H2. If they don’t find a buyer they will just exhaust it.

    They want the carbon to manufacture artificial graphite (for batteries) and for a significant manufacturing industry of carbon fibre mining trucks and rail wagons. They are as strong and so much lighter the fuel use of the the trucks will be reduced by as much as 15%.

    So this $100m+ project will be competing in a difficult sector against a tech that will be generating H2 for free and dumping it if noone wants it.

  16. MrMauricio 3 years ago

    For discussion-this is an 11 year old chart but apparently still holds true re hydrogen and electric cars https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5ab50b424733bf5c13d5b78b09ade892608c7369221b76ee438ea2f9265ed9a1.jpg

    But GO the South Aussies!!!

    • Dennis Abbott.. 3 years ago

      Go Australia,

  17. neroden 3 years ago

    If the hydrogen is shipped out as an industrial gas, for industrial chemistry purposes — as it should be — then this is an excellent idea.

    It’s an unsound idea as a substitute for batteries, though — much too inefficient.

  18. AllEnergy 3 years ago

    Colin Salmond of PetaWatt by Electrygen at Beerwah in Queensland would be chuckling at your story. “Australia’s first renewable-hydrogen electrolyser plant…”?

    Go have a look Giles.

  19. RobertO 3 years ago

    Hi All, Why is it so important to worry about the energy conversion cost. When we have RE we will need more RE that our actual useage to cover the poorer periods of RE. If an area has poor Transmission issues and installing H2 system may well be a better enginerring solution than other solutions. A battery may not be the best solution for that site, given that we may need to add transport to the area’s solution. Fuel cells may be correct for some types of transport, in some areas. If a RE is curtailed we lose energy and if itis converted to H2 then the losses may be less.

  20. Andrew Scott 3 years ago

    If “surplus” renewable energy is to be used to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen it would be best to find local direct and efficient value adding uses for both of these gases.

    For example,
    Hydrogen serves as a good reducing agent in a Blast Furnace producing liquid iron. Oxygen is used in large quantities in a Steelmaking Furnace.

    Have the proponents talked to Mr Gupta about the ironmaking and steelmaking processes at his Whyalla Plant?

    Perhaps the Hydrogen project should be located near the steelworks!

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