The mains gas supply to households and businesses in Tasmania could soon include a mix of renewable hydrogen, with gas company Woodside signing a memorandum of understanding with the Tasmanian government to build one of Australia’s largest electrolyser projects.
Woodside is looking to develop the H2TAS project, which it proposes to build in Bell Bay, and would include a 10MW pilot electrolyser powered by renewable electricity, and operated in partnership with Countrywide Renewable Energy.
“Woodside is focused on moving beyond feasibility studies and is targeting hydrogen production at H2TAS in the first half of 2023, following a targeted final investment decision in the third quarter of 2021. Importantly, this project would create local construction and operational jobs and new opportunities for Tasmanian businesses,” Woodside CEO Peter Coleman said.
“Woodside shares the Tasmanian government’s net-zero aspiration and welcomes the government’s leadership in supporting the growth of a domestic hydrogen industry,” he added.
“The government has taken concrete actions such as creating the Tasmanian Renewable Hydrogen Action Plan, establishing the Tasmanian Renewable Hydrogen Fund and signing this MOU.”
The MoU will see Woodside and the Tasmanian government continue to cooperate on the development of hydrogen industries within the island state. The Tasmanian government has outlined its ambition to reach 200 per cent renewable electricity by 2040 while developing a green hydrogen industry, with an eye on an emerging international market for zero emissions fuels.
“We have already committed to establishing a strong and sustainable renewable hydrogen industry in Tasmania, and this interest shows our plans are viable and attractive for industry to invest and base their hydrogen projects right here,” Tasmania’s minister for state growth, Michael Ferguson, said.
The Tasmanian project would include the installation of a 10MW electrolyser, to produce hydrogen within Tasmania using renewable electricity, and is one of a handful of projects shortlisted to receive grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, under a $70 million grant program.
The project could deliver up to 4.5 tonnes of renewable hydrogen each day, which could be blended in small amounts with natural gas as part of Tasmania’s main gas supplies.
“We are pleased to be able to support this ARENA application through an MOU signed between the Tasmanian Government and Woodside that will assist in furthering discussions between the parties regarding a potential collaboration for Woodside to develop and operate a hydrogen production facility located here in Tasmania,” said state energy minister Guy Barnett.
Alongside the MoU, Woodside secured a non-binding commitment from Tasmanian gas supplier Tas Gas to develop processes for the blending of hydrogen with natural gas supplies into the state’s main gas network.
Part of the motivation behind the blending of green hydrogen into the gas network is likely to be a goal to extend the life of the gas network as measures to reduce fossil fuel use ramp up. Tas Gas conceded that much of its gas network infrastructure is relatively new, but this would provide some advantages when it comes to hydrogen blending.
“Our networks are relatively new and capable of safely conveying hydrogen, unlike older systems across Australia,” Tas Gas CEO Phaedra Deckart said.
The ACT government has announced that it will aim to eventually phase out the supply of natural gas to households, with the substantial replacement of infrastructure and appliances necessary to undertake a complete shift to 100 per cent hydrogen.