$ 2 billion master plan to move a green hydrogen river to the Hunter Valley – PV Magazine Australia


At its heart, the Energy Estate proposal released this morning, to create Australia’s first hydrogen valley in the New South Wales Hunter region, is a simple and elegant plan to put energy transmission in the form of hydrogen pipelines, connecting parts of New South Wales. the largest renewable energy production areas in the electricity-hungry industrial ring of the coastal city of Newcastle, and in the world.

But the plan, which was crafted a few years ago, according to Energy Estate manager Vincent Dwyer, has also chosen its timing – that of a state-of-the-art by-election that threatens to squeeze the slim majority. from Liberal Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian, from the federally forced polarizing gas peaker factory in Kurri Kurri, from major energy hubs developing across the state – to present “an alternative narrative”.

“We looked at the pinch points in the transition,” said Dwyer pv magazine Australia this morning. “Since we need to decarbonize heavy industry, transportation and the chemical sector, we need massive investments in the transportation system, which has been a real headache for people.”

Not only is the construction of the transmission limited by long-term processes such as the regulatory investment test for transmission (RIT-T), but it most often represents an investment risk as it could in the meantime be replaced by other technologies – such as more flexible virtual transmission based on battery storage, or, in fact, ever more viable hydrogen supplies flowing through pipelines.

Transmission also arouses the anger and purpose of communities and landowners who are required to live in its shadow.

The Hunter Valley, an area in search of alternative employment and a renewed industrial base to replace coal mines and initially fossil fuel power plants is, according to Dwyer, “a particularly complex social license area, between vineyards and horses and mines ”.

But where the transmission infrastructure means towers and a 60-meter easement, the pipes are underground and only require a 20-meter easement – “it’s a little underground pipeline, so it doesn’t have to be. has the same level of social license issues as 500 kV transmission lines, ”suggests Dwyer.

Join the basic constituent points

Energy Estate, an energy consulting firm as well as a renewable energy developer, already had many links to consider the emergence of hydrogen as an alternative solution to the transport of electrons from new areas of green production to traditional high-use areas.

He is an advisor to Idemitsu Australia Resources, which reconsiders the future of its acquisition of Muswellbrook Coal as a potential hydro-pumped energy storage site and an adjacent clean energy industrial zone.

The huge energy domain Walcha energy project on which it is a partner of MirusWind, gradually jumps through the regulatory hoops of the co-location of hydro-pumping which reuses the Dungowan dam with up to 700 MW of solar energy in the Salisbury plains; up to 700 MW of wind power at the Winterbourne wind farm (acquired by Vestas in 2019); and a 100 MW battery energy storage system (BESS).

Its Hydrogen Growth platform has joint ventures and advisory roles across the country, including the partnership with Hills International College to develop a hydrogen plant on its Jimboomba campus in Queensland.

He has been in discussion with Atlassian’s Beyond Zero Emissions think tank, backed by Mike Cannon-Brookes, about BZE’s latest campaign to bring participants together and the momentum to rethink the Hunter and Gladstone as Renewable energy industrial zones.

“Then we thought, if we’re going to deliver this, let’s get somebody who knows about pipelines together” – between APA Group; “Someone who knows gas production” – AGL is the participating energy utility; someone who knows the market route for global ammonia export – Trafigura and Idemitsu are enthusiastic; “And great renewable energy developers” – WalchaEnergy, of course, and another Energy Estate partner, RES Australia.

Stepping stones to advantageous market developments

The resulting Hunter Hydrogen Network (H2N) project is envisioned in two stages, the second a little looser than the first, to leverage the benefits of emerging costs and changing market conditions in an ever-changing energy landscape.

As Dwyer says, “There are such a variety of uses for hydrogen – in transportation, in chemical plants to create caustic soda, to create ammonia and chlorine through electrolysis, you can l ‘use to create all kinds of green plastics, it can be used to drive gas-peaker factories – we want to stay open to all of these derivative markets as they evolve. “

The first stage of the project aims to produce green hydrogen at Muswellbrook and transport it via a short pipeline to the site of the Liddell power plant, which AGL is due to close in April 2023, and could be reused for a variety. of green hydrogen using green hydrogen. activities, such as chemical plants and / or a second gas peaker plant.

The Walcha energy project also plans to bring the majority of its 4.5 MW of renewable energy via a private transmission line, Walcha Link, to the outskirts of Liddell where it can be used for hydrogen production, or be distributed using existing grid infrastructure, throughout the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Regardless of its H2N project, Energy Estate is “presently in the market with Walcha Link,” says Dwyer, “discussing the opportunities associated with this.”

Dwyer plans to supply the future H2N hydrogen product to the Muswellbrook / Liddell ecosystem as a green feedstock for mining, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and other industrial uses.

Hydrogen pipeline, the new transport infrastructure?

Image: Energy domain / H2N

The pipes of peace

Stage 2 will see a pipeline from the Muswellbrook / Liddell production center to Newcastle, “with laterals at Kurri Kurri for the gas peaker, if that’s how Snowy Hydro chooses to supply it, to Williamtown to supply the gas. army operations or at the industrial compound of Tomago, ”Dwyer says.

He says the consortium assembled under H2N could today supply green hydrogen at a competitive price, but the pipeline and potential port infrastructure to ship the product to international markets are where the project will require support from the government. government.

Unable to realize policies promoting renewable electrons, the federal government is much more likely to be able to wrap its national hydrogen roadmap around a plan to boost the Hunter region, in particular given this Saturday’s by-election in which a YouGov poll revealed. no candidate has had more than 25% of the vote (Layzell is over 25%, Labor’s Jeff Drayton polled 23%) – in the traditionally secure Nationals seat.

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