27/11/2020 - 12:00

WA town to test hydrogen plant

27/11/2020 - 12:00

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Construction of a hydrogen plant that will have enough energy to power 100 homes in the coastal town of Denham has been approved by the federal government.

WA town to test hydrogen plant
Bill Johnston says the plant will test the potential for hydrogen microgrids in other regional towns. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Construction of a hydrogen plant that will have enough energy to power 100 homes in the coastal town of Denham has been approved by the federal government.

The microgrid will use solar and hydrogen power and storage to provide 526 megawatts of renewable electricity each year.

It is being built by Western Australian-owned Horizon Power, 800 kilometres north-west of Perth.

The project will create 30 jobs during construction.

The federal government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, has invested $2.6 million in the project and the state government $5.7 million.

Denham, which is close to wind turbines and solar resources, could become a zero-emission community by 2050.

Energy Minister Bill Johnston said there was potential to roll out hydrogen microgrids in other regional towns.

"The plant will extend Australia's knowledge of hydrogen operating systems, and test the possibility of implementing microgrids and hydrogen technology into other regional power systems across the state,” he said.

Construction of the plant will start next August, with commissioning expected in December. 

Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said prioritising and backing hydrogen projects could form part of Australia’s energy plans to drive down costs and reduce emissions.

“The outcomes of this project will not only help to advance hydrogen developments across Australia, but will help keep the lights on for a remote community," he said.

"Importantly, this funding will provide reliable and affordable energy solutions to remote and indigenous communities, supporting economic development, local jobs and reducing disadvantage for households."

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said remote and off-grid communities like Denham suffered from high energy costs.

"The potential for these communities to generate, store and use their own renewable energy could simultaneously reduce costs and reduce emissions without sacrificing the reliability of energy supply," he said.

“Clean hydrogen could be a major export industry in the future, but in the near term we can utilise renewable hydrogen for domestic purposes and we’re excited to see how Horizon Power’s first-of-a-kind project could transform remote area power systems into state of the art renewable energy hubs."

Horizon Power chief executive Stephanie Unwin said the company would use the plant to test how to integrate and deploy hydrogen technology into remote diesel microgrids.

“This technology has the potential to be an environmental game changer for many remote towns in Western Australia and other similar locations around Australia, and allow greater uptake of reliable cleaner, greener renewable energy sources in the future," she said.

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