Labor government launches tender to build ‘world’s largest’ renewable hydrogen plant

The Federal Labor Government has launched a tender to build the “World’s Largest Renewable Hydrogen” facility in Brisbane, Australia.

Australia’s government-backed Renewable Energy Agency will commit $13.7 million to develop a green hydrogen facility dedicated to decarbonizing ammonia plants.

The grant, along with Incitec Pivot Limited, will go to billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries to explore and develop a $38 million facility capable of producing up to 70,000 tons of renewable hydrogen per year in a 500 megawatt electrolyser. design.

“This project will provide valuable insight into the costs of producing renewable hydrogen and adapting infrastructure to facilitate renewable ammonia exports,” Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said in a statement. said in

“If successful, the electrolyser will be the largest ever built and will supply renewable hydrogen directly to the first fully decarbonized ammonia facility.”

Bowen said the study was important in understanding how Australia could develop a hydrogen export system.

Hydrogen, a key building block of net zero

Hydrogen production is a key piece of the puzzle in advancing net zero and phasing out coal power.

Energy grids powered by renewables require vast amounts of storage, billions of dollars and materials to provide backup power when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining is.

Giant lithium batteries are currently the preferred method of storing excess power.

Battery technology has improved, but it still has many shortcomings. For example, the world’s largest battery system, the FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center in Florida, can only power about 329,000 homes for his two hours at a time.

In the case of renewable energy systems such as pumped hydro, the storage element is simply building a dam system to store vast amounts of water, which is then pumped back through turbines to generate electricity. increase. However, not all countries and regions have access to suitable environmental conditions for using hydropower.

As such, governments have invested billions in hydrogen technology as another solution to complement battery storage.

Instead of pumping surplus electricity into batteries, it is fed via an electrolyzer (another electricity-hungry process) to produce hydrogen to fill the reservoir. Hydrogen can be used as a new energy source or as a synthetic fuel.

However, like many new technologies in Net Zero Push, it is still in the early stages of development and not widely available.

“The main problem is that hydrogen has a very low density,” says Nick Kastelstein, oil and gas engineer at GPA Engineering. “That means it’s one-third the energy density of methane, and it takes a lot of energy to compress it.”

“It also affects the material and ability of the storage container to withstand cycling fatigue. The bottle will fail ten times faster.

Daniel Y. Teng


Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. His focus is on national politics such as federal politics, the COVID-19 response and Australia-China relations. Any tips? Please contact [email protected].