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Australia Future proofing: Australia's gas networks look to go green with hydrogen

08:21  22 february  2021
08:21  22 february  2021 Source:   reuters.com

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An energy consortium in Australia recently announced plans to export green hydrogen from a site in Pilbara in western Australia to Singapore. The scheme involved 1,743 large wind turbines and 30 square miles of solar panels to run a 26-gigawatt electrolysis factory to create its green hydrogen . Ben Gallagher, an energy analyst at Wood McKenzie who studies green hydrogen , says the fuel is so new that its future remains unclear. “No one has any true idea what is going on here,” he says.

With Australia ’ s relatively small market for electricity on the one hand, and almost unparalleled access to natural resources on the other, the potential for hydrogen to underpin a significant wave of future export revenue and natural gas alternatives for industry is significant. Interest in hydrogen as a means of decarbonisation while maintaining energy security has recently re-emerged for global economies. Japan’s desire to move away from nuclear power generation without sacrificing energy security has spurred its commitment to become the world’s first ‘ Hydrogen Society’.

By Sonali Paul

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's natural gas pipeline owners are working to future proof their A$75 billion ($59 billion) in assets amid a global push towards clean energy, running tests to blend hydrogen with gas and produce green methane to replace the fossil fuel.

Cashing in on rare bipartisan support for hydrogen across Australia's national and state governments to help cut carbon emissions, pipeline and network owners have already committed A$180 million to a range of projects involving green hydrogen.

Australian states have pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with many developed countries, but Canberra has yet to commit to the 2050 timeframe.

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HYDROGEN , which isn’t freely available in the atmosphere, is a gas that has to be produced. It has actually been around for a long time. Hydrogen gas was first produced artificially in the 16th century. It took several hundred years – the 19th century, to be precise – before the first fuel cells and According to train manufacturer Alstom, it plans to deliver 14 more engines by 2021, which is when the trains are expected to go into commercial service. Interest in the new trains has been expressed by other German states as well as other countries such as the UK, Norway, Denmark, France and

In Australia , State, Territory and Commonwealth governments are agreed significant opportunity exists for Australia to become a major producer of hydrogen for domestic use and for export. To move forward in creating a pathway for Australia to take advantage of this growing hydrogen industry, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council formed There are a number of forecasts in the public domain which. 40 0. predict what the future of the global hydrogen market will look like. Forecasts vary significantly due to both the. unpredictable outlook for market development and the.

"It's a business risk we all need to manage," said Ben Wilson, chief executive of Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), owned by units of Hong Kong-based CK Group.

"What started out as defensive has become an opportunity, particularly given our renewable energy sources. We can become the world's largest exporter of green hydrogen," he told Reuters.

Pipeline owners seeking government funding for hydrogen projects aim to show how their infrastructure can be used to deliver hydrogen in blends with gas and store hydrogen as a form of renewable energy storage.

Graphic: Map of Australia's pipeline network, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/rlgpdexgavo/AustraliaGasPipelineMap.png

"At the end of the day, we also think that continuing to use this infrastructure allows the whole economy to decarbonise at a lower cost," said Dennis Van Puyvelde, head of gas for Energy Networks Australia.

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This gas exists. It’ s called green hydrogen , and is made by using clean electricity from renewable energy technologies to electrolyse water (H2O), separating the hydrogen atom within it from its molecular twin oxygen. The catch has always been that the cost of making green hydrogen prices it out If clean hydrogen does start to play a bigger part in the world’ s energy mix, incorporating it will be technically relatively easy, Mr Carraretto said, as the infrastructure already built to carry natural gas can also carry hydrogen . He said a recent study had shown 70 per cent of Italy’ s gas network would be

Going green reduces air pollution and environmental toxins that could affect our body’ s immune system that fights infections, and that could expose us to diseases and fatal illnesses. Another advantage of going green is that it helps decrease the number of pollutants released to the environment. With a greener planet, you and I can look forward to a cleaner environment and a brighter future . With better quality of air, surroundings, and food, we are more likely to be healthier, to be around for longer to fulfill our life aspirations and enjoy our relationship with our loved ones.

A study done for the industry body last year found that to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, building a hydrogen distribution network would cost half as much as expanding power networks to serve businesses and industries that currently rely on gas, and save Australia some A$13 billion.

Pipeline companies are working on a shorter time frame than 2050, as some states are pushing to have 10% hydrogen in gas pipelines by 2030.

EYES ON GREEN METHANE

A study done for the government found hydrogen can be safely added to gas supplies at up to 10% by volume without having to modify pipelines or appliances.

Van Puyvelde said the advantage of blending hydrogen into gas allows for a gradual buildup of the hydrogen industry, requiring electrolysers of up to 1 gigawatt, compared with the much bigger, more costly electrolysers that will be needed for green hydrogen exports.

In the first test of hydrogen into a distribution network in Australia, AGIG is set to start injecting a 5% blend of green hydrogen by volume in gas next month, going into 700 homes in Adelaide.

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Future - proofing gas generation basically means designing a plant that will remain competitive in a net-zero world. So, carbon emissions will need to be reduced, but natural gas power plants may continue to operate beyond 2050 without a mechanism for carbon capture by employing alternative means of While the economics and operational performance make hydrogen and CCUS attractive options for future - proofing gas generation assets, it’ s equally important to account for necessary design elements that will aid long-term adoption of these innovative technologies. First, the proper space should be

The announcement of a National Hydrogen Mission makes green hydrogen , considered as the fuel of the future , as one of the components for creating a diversified, low-carbon and sustainable energy architecture for the country. The mission will provide the impetus needed to unlock the flow of investment for developing a hydrogen ecosystem the way National Solar Mission did for renewables. The budget aims to help the transition by announcing city gas networks in 100 more districts, taking the total to 500.

Jemena, a company owned by State Grid Corp of China and Singapore Power, is working on a similar government-backed project in Sydney, blending up to 2% hydrogen into the country's biggest local gas network later this year.

More projects are in the works, with pipeline companies shortlisted for A$70 million in hydrogen funding from the government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency said.

For the longer term, the industry is closely watching Europe's biggest energy grid operator, E.ON, which is converting a gas pipeline in Germany to deliver pure hydrogen.

Beyond hydrogen, the ideal replacement for natural gas would be green methane, if it could be produced commercially. Methane is chemically the same as natural gas, the fossil fuel.

Testing the potential, APA Group, Australia's biggest pipeline company, is building a demonstration plant in the state of Queensland that would use solar energy to power an electrolyser to split water, produce hydrogen and combine that with carbon dioxide extracted from the air to produce methane.

The project has attracted interest from U.S. companies, and if it works, could aid all companies around the world, like APA, that have billions of dollars invested in pipelines serving liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants.

"Assuming it's successful, it would be compatible with existing LNG infrastructure. You wouldn't need to retrofit," APA's head of transformation Hannah McCaughey told Reuters.

(This story refiles to correct paragraph 3 to fix formatting)

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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