High hopes for the hydrogen industry

THE world’s largest hydrogen export demonstration project is powering along, with hydrogen production successfully underway at a dedicated Latrobe Valley facility.

The coal gasification and hydrogen refining facility at AGL’s Loy Yang site – which forms a critical part of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Pilot Project – is converting brown coal into hydrogen gas, which will be transported to Port of Hastings and then liquified and shipped to Japan in the world’s first, purpose-built liquified hydrogen carrier, the Suiso Frontier.

As well as creating an expected 400 Victorian jobs during its life, the pilot will help establish local skills, capabilities and infrastructure that will provide a platform for the development of a broad hydrogen industry in Victoria and Australia.

For the project to progress to full commercial scale, it must achieve successful carbon capture and storage, enabling significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in Victoria.

At full scale, the government says project has the potential to create thousands more local jobs, provide clean hydrogen that can help meet Victoria’s future energy needs, and kick-start the emergence of a new, global export industry.

The fast-growing hydrogen industry is expected to be worth $2.5 trillion globally by 2050.

State Economic Development Minister Tim Pallas said the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Pilot Project would create jobs for the Latrobe Valley and right across Victoria, while boosting the economy.

“This is an important milestone for this world- first project, which will help us transition towards a low carbon energy future, while potentially creating thousands more jobs for Victorians if it reaches commercialisation,” he said.

J-Power executive managing officer Dr Hiroshi Sasatsu said the beginning of operations of the pilot project was an Australian and world first.

“It marks a cornerstone moment for science and innovation,” he said.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries executive managing officer Dr Eiichi Harada said the Victorian, Australian and Japanese governments shared a vision that clean hydrogen was the future of fuel. ‘The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Pilot Project is that vision in action,” he said.

Gippsland MHR Gippsland Darren Chester said the federal government had committed $50 million to the pilot project and had invested more than $95 million in the CarbonNet project and $50 million to carbon capture and storage.

He said Gippsland was also now one of Australia’s Regional Hydrogen Clusters, and would will play a pivotal role in accelerating the development, deployment and commercialisation of the Australian hydrogen energy.

A demonstration plant has been under construction in the Latrobe Valley since November 2019 and began producing hydrogen on January 23 this year.

The first shipment of hydrogen from Victoria to Japan is expected to occur by June 2021.

The pilot project is being developed by a consortium of top energy and infrastructure companies from Australia and Japan – including Kawasaki Heavy Industries, J-Power, Iwatani Corporation, Marubeni Corporat ion, Sumitomo Corporation, and AGL – with the support of the state, federal and Japanese governments.