Hydrogen power is coming to Canberra

The ACT Government has announced an $180 million investment to bring hydrogen energy storage to Canberra, including the first hydrogen fuelled car fleet and service station.

Made possible through the Next Generation Renewables auction, the development continues to build the ACT’s reputation as an international centre for the development and implementation of renewable energy and energy storage.

“Canberra is already leading the nation in distributed energy storage with our 36MW next generation energy storage program for solar battery storage,” Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Simon Corbell said.

“Hydrogen energy storage from 100% renewable energy is an important complementary technology with huge commercial potential.”

  • Neoen and Megawatt Capital (developers of the Hornsdale Wind Farm) will invest $55 million in partnership with Siemens and Hyundai to establish a 1.25MW hydrogen electrolyser, which converts electricity to hydrogen. The initiative, to be established here in Canberra, will include a refuelling station and service centre and an initial fleet of 20 hydrogen fuelled cars including a technical support and research program. Siemens will also establish an office in Canberra’s renewable energy innovation precinct.
  • Union Fenosa (developer of the Crookwell Wind Farm) will invest $125 million including a research and development partnership with the Australian National University and ActewAGL Distribution. This will focus on renewable energy power to gas (ReP2G), investigating efficiencies in the production of hydrogen from renewables and how it can then be introduced to the ACT gas network or provide support to the electricity network. A pilot testing facility will also be established in the ACT to produce hydrogen from water using the ACT’s 100% renewable electricity supply.

“Now that the ACT is set to have 100% renewable electricity by 2020, which will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 40% on 1990 levels, we can focus on reducing other sources of greenhouse gases and maintaining our position as a leader in energy innovation,” Mr Corbell said.

“One of the next great challenges is our transport sector which will overtake electricity to be 60% of our city’s emission in 2020.
“The future for transport is clear – it is renewable and it is electric. Both batteries and hydrogen energy storage technologies may have important roles to play as we electrify our vehicle fleets, and have an electricity grid based on 100% renewable energy.

“Hydrogen technologies could be an important complementary technology to battery storage with several advantages as an energy storage medium.  

“Hydrogen has a much higher energy density and, in the case of electric vehicles, it is much faster to fill a tank with hydrogen than to charge a battery from the grid. A higher energy density also means a longer driving range.

“Like batteries, hydrogen can be used to support a high penetration renewables grid drawing power when renewable production is excessive and producing power when renewable production is low. The only by-product of this process is pure water which can be recycled through the system.

“Renewables to gas technology may also be an important contributor to a zero carbon future as it allows hydrogen and natural gas to be produced from renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy. It is important that more research be done in this area.”