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Funding fuels study into hydrogen gas for country towns

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Adelaide-based company Australian Gas Networks has been awarded $1.28 million in Federal Government funding to support a study into introducing renewable hydrogen into South Australian and Victorian towns.

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding will help the Australian Hydrogen Centre explore the feasibility of blending hydrogen into natural gas networks.

The AHC, which is being driven by AGN., will develop feasibility studies into injecting up to 10 per cent renewable hydrogen into the gas distribution network of one yet to be chosen regional town in South Australia, and two in Victoria.

Building on the feasibility studies for regional towns, the AHC will also develop feasibility studies to inject up to 10 per cent renewable hydrogen into the gas distribution networks of South Australia and Victoria, and develop a pathway to make the transition to 100 per cent hydrogen networks.

In addition, the AHC will share key insights and data from the operations of Australian Gas Networks’ flagship project, the $11.4 million Hydrogen Park South Australia (HyP SA), which is being constructed at Tonsley and is expected to be operational by mid-this year.

It will be Australia’s largest renewable hydrogen production facility, producing hydrogen and blending it into the gas distribution network in suburban Mitchell Park.

The key piece of infrastructure at the Tonsley hydrogen park will be a 1.25MW proton exchange membrane electrolyser, which will use purchased renewable electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas.

From June, about 710 households in Mitchell Park will use the blended 5 per cent renewable gas – a combination of natural gas and renewable hydrogen.

The AHC has also received funding support from SA’s Department for Energy and Mining and the Victorian Government. Industry partners include energy infrastructure business AusNet Services, and leading renewable energy companies, ENGIE and Neoen.

The ARENA grant will cover about 30 per cent of the estimated cost of $4.15 million to complete the AHC work program by January 2022.

AGN is part of Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), which owns and operates one of Australia’s largest gas infrastructure businesses supplying 2 million customers across every mainland state and the Northern Territory.

Last year AGN received a $4.9 million grant from the South Australian Government’s Renewable Technology Fund to help  build and operate the HyP SA project.

“AGN, as part of Australia’s broader energy industry, has commenced the new decade with a strategy that aims to deliver substantial, measurable and world-leading outcomes in minimising the current and future carbon footprint across the whole of our national gas distribution business,” chief executive officer Ben Wilson, right, said.

“This public licence also requires total transparency so the studies will provide guidance as to both the best solution to deliver renewable gas into our networks while ensuring full engagement with all stakeholders and consumers about this step-change in Australian energy delivery.

“The 2020s will be an exciting time for the energy industry and consumers. ARENA’s foresight in backing the strategy for a roll-out of more renewably sourced gas in these two key major markets, is to be commended.”

The South Australian Government released its Hydrogen Action Plan in September in a bid to use excess cheap renewable energy to generate hydrogen, which can be used as fuel or to generate electricity at a later time and place.

Other key hydrogen projects utilizing State Government funding underway in South Australia include:

South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan, said the Australian Hydrogen Centre was an exciting renewable energy initiative that fitted perfectly with the government’s plan to deliver more reliable, more affordable and cleaner energy.

“Considering South Australia’s enormous wind and solar resources, we have significant natural advantages that can be leveraged to produce, consume and export 100 per cent green hydrogen,” he said.

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