New South Wales will soon see construction start on its first renewable hydrogen production facility, with the Western Sydney Green Gas project being granted an accelerated planning approval by the NSW government.
The green hydrogen facility, to be built at a Jemena facility in the western Sydney suburb of Horsley Park, enjoyed a fast-tracked planning approval process being undertaken by the NSW government under the Planning System Acceleration Program, to speed up approval times and boost the NSW economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The $18 million Western Sydney Green Gas Project will be a prototype for future green hydrogen projects,” NSW planning and public spaces minister Rob Stokes said.
“Hydrogen can revolutionise the fuel and gas industry, creating opportunities for low emissions technologies and jobs.”
The $18 million Western Sydney Green Gas project is being developed with the support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which has provided a $7.5 million grant to help finance the project. The plant will install an electrolyser, which will use a supply of wind and solar power to convert water into renewable hydrogen.
The project will see Jemena install a 500 kilowatt electrolyser purchased from Belgium-Canadian firm Hydrogenics, which will produce enough zero emissions hydrogen to supply the equivalent of around 250 Sydney homes with gas.
Jemena will look to trial the blending of a small amount of hydrogen into the mains gas network, which would provide some level of replacement of fossil gas with a zero emissions alternative, as well as looking to supply hydrogen to other use cases, including hydrogen fuelled transport.
Jemena welcomed the expedited planning approval, and expects to be able to begin injecting hydrogen into the mains gas network in early 2021.
“We welcome today’s announcement as a crucial next step towards bringing renewable hydrogen gas to the New South Wales gas network. Today’s decision means we are now able to confirm that renewable hydrogen gas will be injected into the New South Wales gas network early next year. Through the remainder of 2020, we will continue construction efforts in Western Sydney, including the installation of New South Wales’ first electrolyser,” Jemena spokesperson Michael Pintabona told RenewEconomy.
“At this challenging time, government support for projects like this is pivotal and will help bring new jobs and economic activity to Western Sydney.”
The blending of around 10 per cent hydrogen into mains gas networks is generally possible, without the need to significantly modify household appliances like stoves and hot water systems, but planning documents lodged by Jemena suggest the company will aim for around 2 per cent hydrogen blending as part of the pilot project.
Jemena says that the pilot project is intended to provide early insights into the possible role hydrogen could play in a future energy system, with a wider rollout to be considered at the end of the five year trial.
“This will help to position NSW as a nation-leader in green gas supply and storage projects as we transition to a low carbon gas network,” NSW energy minister Matt Kean said.
“It will also help us reach our ambitious aspiration of injecting 10 per cent hydrogen into our gas network by 2030.”
The Western Sydney Green Gas project, which is being developed by Jemena, recently secured a customer for its renewable hydrogen production, signing a deal to supply Hyundai’s flagship store in Sydney’s North, which will host Australia’s first permanent hydrogen refuelling facility.
“We are demonstrating that electrolysers not only produce safe and green hydrogen gas to blend with natural gas for home appliances, but that they also enable hydrogen to be made available for zero-emission transportation,” Jemena’s managing director, Frank Tudor, said on Monday.
Hyundai is looking to offer its hydrogen fuelled NEXO model into the Australian market, which boasts a range of up to 610 kilometres on a tank of hydrogen, and has already secured an order of 20 vehicles from the ACT government.
Construction of the Western Sydney Green Gas project is expected to commence within the next three months and is due to be completed in early 2021.