Webinar: How the Latrobe Valley can play a role in Australia’s hydrogen future

More than 180 people tuned into the November 2020 HESC Project webinar.

Dr Patrick Hartley – Leader of CSIRO’s Hydrogen Industry Mission, kicked off the presentation, outlining how hydrogen is critical for decarbonising industries; reducing global CO2 emissions; job creation; and creating new industries.

Dr Hartley said Australia’s availability of abundant resources, including Latrobe Valley coal and nearby carbon storage potential, gives the country potential to be a global hydrogen leader.

Why now? Key drivers around global decarbonisation, like the Paris Climate Agreement, now exist.

Also, the technology used to produce hydrogen is maturing to the point of commercial viability–creating a market both on the demand and supply side.

Speaking about the National Hydrogen Strategy, Dr Hartley said, “The strategy is an unprecedented agreement by all Governments—Federal, State and Territory. To pursue this industry development, it will be significant as we move forward because it is very much going to take a team Australia effort to get this industry going”.

Jeremy Stone – Non-Executive Director of J-Power Latrobe Valley, explained that the HESC Pilot Project will ‘prove-up’ an international hydrogen from Latrobe Valley coal supply chain.

Mr Stone shared three major reasons the project partners aim to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen from Latrobe Valley coal with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)—urgency, scalability and affordability.

Mr Stone said the infrastructure created by the HESC Project to transport, liquefy, store and ship hydrogen is the same infrastructure renewable hydrogen projects will need.

He also discussed how the highly skilled workers it will create shall be job-ready for the future energy sector. In the pilot, approximately 150 direct jobs were created for the construction phase at the Latrobe Valley site, while 10 are operating the facility.

Hirofumi Kawazoe – General Manager of Hydrogen Engineering Australia, provided an update on the Hastings site, where commissioning is now complete. Coregas now operate and maintain the site on a 24/7 shift basis.

Mr Kawazoe explained how hydrogen gas received from the Latrobe Valley will be liquefied and cooled to -253 degrees Celsius at the Hastings site—reducing the gas to 1/800th of its volume, making transport of hydrogen on the Suiso Frontier more efficient.

He shared that project partner, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, leant on 25 years of technology development to build the cryogenic hydrogen storage tank.

Around 60 jobs were created during construction of the Hastings site and 15 employees are operating the facility.

Ian Filby – Project Director of the CarbonNet project explained the focus on CCS in Gippsland, which has world-leading potential because of its CO2 storage capacity.

The existing highly skilled workforce is advantageous, and CarbonNet can support businesses in Gippsland that transition to new industries.

“Why are we doing this? Well, it’s all about climate change. We know from the science of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and other world-leading organizations that CCS is fundamental to reaching our goal of net-zero emissions and the agreements reached in Paris,” said Mr Filby.

“We know that CCS is necessary for climate change, we know that it’s cost-effective, and we know that it works because it’s been operating for close to 50 years in different places around the world.”

According to most recent data from the Global CCS Institute, there are now 58 CCS facilities in various stages of development globally. These include 20 in operation, three under construction, and 35 in various stages of development with an estimated combined capture capacity of 127 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Finally, Jane Oakley – Chief Executive Officer of Committee for Gippsland discussed what clean energy projects could mean for the future of Gippsland.

Ms Oakley said the priority for Gippsland is to secure itself as a clean energy powerhouse. The Committee will continue to work with regional stakeholders, government and community members to lead the transition to a clean energy future.

“HESC presents a significant advantage for us here in Gippsland. It offers proven technology and an established supply chain, which puts us in a really strong position and provides a foundation in leading innovative hydrogen production and opening up new opportunities for cleaner technologies,“ Ms Oakley said.

 “Also, we need to leverage existing assets and capability. Imagine the economic loss in allowing the region’s power lines, pipelines, and easements to become stranded given the potential of Gippsland to produce renewable and low emissions electricity and hydrogen.”

Concluding the session, Dr Hartley said, “This is a very important project globally. Demonstrating this supply chain is not something that’s happening in many countries at all. So, I think the region and Australia should be very proud to be hosting this demonstration. It’s very, very significant”.

Mr Stone concluded, “We’re available and we’re accessible and we want to hear from Gippsland people about their visions, their aims and their concerns.”

You can get in touch with HESC by emailing [email protected] or calling 1800 875 251.

Q&A’s and a recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

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