Unpacked: Green hydrogen and how it can help power SA’s clean energy future
29 Jun. 2022 3 min read
Want a simple explanation of green hydrogen and its role in reducing the reliance on fossil fuels? Here’s what you need to know.
We’re all feeling the pressure of rising power and gas prices, and South Australia’s recent climate emergency declarationis putting a spotlight on the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find renewable ways to power our world.
But what does green hydrogen have to do with it?
Green hydrogen is a clean and reliable energy source that can help reduce our reliance on electricity powered by fossil fuels.
The exciting news is its production is happening right here in South Australia.
The SA government has committed to creating a new hydrogen production and storage facility near Whyalla, promising $593 million dollars to the project over 4 years and bolstering the state’s status as a world leader in the transition to renewable and clean energy.
Over 60% of South Australia’s energy already comes from renewable sources, and adding green hydrogen to the mix will help our state achieve its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% by 2030 and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Further, the new hydrogen power plant can operate at times of the day when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, which will help smooth out some of the supply and demand imbalances in the electricity network, and in turn put downward pressure on electricity prices.
What exactly is green hydrogen and how do we get it?
Cast your mind back to science class and think about the first chemical formula you learned: H20.
That’s right, it all starts with water.
A hydrogen production facility uses a process called electrolysis to send an electric current to the water, causing a chemical reaction that separates the water into hydrogen and oxygen.
When hydrogen is made using renewable electricity, the result is a carbon-free fuel.
How is hydrogen used?
In South Australia, we have the capacity to generate more solar energy than is currently needed.
Instead of letting our natural resources go to waste, this excess energy can be used to produce green hydrogen.
This means that hydrogen is a low-cost, carbon-free fuel. Plus, the hydrogen plant will be able to store hydrogen energy for use at a later date.
Hydrogen can be used like natural gas to heat and power homes, to power fuel cell electric cars and trucks, buses and trains, and to make electricity (through fuel cells or being burned to drive turbines).
When will hydrogen start being produced in SA?
It already is! Hydrogen Park SA, located at the Tonsley Innovation District, is an Australian-first project and one of only a few in the world to supply a renewable gas blend to homes connected to an existing gas network. It marks an important first step towards decarbonising Australia’s gas supply.
The facility currently supplies more than 700 homes in the Adelaide suburb of Mitchell Park with a blended gas made of 5% renewable hydrogen, which is made on-site. It’s currently Australia’s largest renewable hydrogen facility at 1.25 megawatts.
The government’s new hydrogen plant to be built near Whyalla targets the construction of a 250 megawatt electrical electrolyser, 200 megawatt power station and storage facility by December 2025.
Want to learn more about hydrogen energy in SA? Check out the short video below (1 minute 34 seconds):
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