Clean, green, hydrogen as an Australian export commodity took one step closer to reality this week when Origin Energy signed an MoU with Port of Townsville, a Shipping Australia member, for an export-scale liquid hydrogen project.
According to Origin, the company is working with Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan on a 300MW early export project that would produce 36,500 tonnes a year of green liquid hydrogen.
The hydrogen will be sourced through electrolysis which is the splitting of water into its constituent gases using electricity. It is “green” hydrogen because the process will be powered with renewable energy and will use sustainable water as its feedstock.
Elemental hydrogen – green if enewably sourced
Hydrogen is a chemical element and during combustion it reacts with oxygen to form pure water as its primary emission. Because it does not contain carbon it does not create the potent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, during combustion. Hydrogen made with renewable energy and sustainable water is therefore widely viewed as being a strong candidate for being the energy source of choice for future heavy industries and industrial transportation, such as ocean going ships.
Townsville, Kawasaki and Origin will now focus on the work needed to accommodate the semi-commercial scale liquid hydrogen carriers, future expansion opportunities and the potential for sharing of common infrastructure with Port of Townsville users.
The first export of green hydrogen from the Port of Townsville is forecast for the mid-2020s.
Townsville is ideally-placed to become a hydrogen-export hub
Origin General Manager Future Fuels, Felicity Underhill said, “Townsville is ideally placed to develop a liquid hydrogen facility due to its deep-water port, industrial-zoned land, availability of skilled workers and nearby renewable energy and sustainable water resources. Townsville has the potential to become a leading global hub for hydrogen exports, boosting local jobs, as well as supporting local industry and transport to decarbonise. There will be significant export demand for green hydrogen coming from Asia in the 2030s and even sooner from Japan in the mid-2020s and our proximity to these markets and abundance of clean renewable resources puts Australia in pole position to be a global leader in hydrogen.”
Port of Townsville Chair Renita Garard said Townsville was a world class location for renewable hydrogen production with significant export potential to close Asian markets.
“This is an extremely exciting project to be part of as the global demand for hydrogen is gaining momentum every day. Townsville enjoys more than 320 days of sunshine and the region has several established renewable energy developments with the renewable energy potential and regional partners progressing new hydrogen technology every day.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk commented: “We said we’d continue to build Queensland’s hydrogen industry and that’s exactly what we’re doing because that means jobs. The MoU… highlights North Queensland’s importance as a vital link in the supply chain needed for Queensland to become a major renewable hydrogen producer and supplier. We’ve invested in a $232 million upgrade of the port channel, $40 million Berth 4 upgrade and $48 million intermodal facility to ensure the port remains a premier gateway for the north.”