Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy and the Australian state of Victoria plan to create the world’s first international hydrogen supply chain.
A Japanese-Australian company has started producing hydrogen from lignite as part of an A $ 500 million ($ 390 million) pilot project that aims to show that liquefied hydrogen can be produced commercially and safely exported to overseas.
The plan is to create the first international supply chain for liquefied hydrogen and the next big step will be to ship goods on the world’s first liquefied hydrogen transporter.
“We have the potential here to be world leaders in the production and export of hydrogen and this project is developing this technology to do just that,” Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor told the agency. Reuters press release on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the event. .
Australia, already dominant in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade, hopes liquefied hydrogen will give it a greener market for its coal and gas.
Managed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and located in the state of Victoria, home to a quarter of the world’s known lignite reserves, the project is key to helping Japan meet its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 .
Japan, the world’s fifth-largest energy consumer, aims to increase its annual demand for hydrogen to 20 million tonnes by 2050, which is equivalent to around 40 percent of its current electricity production.
Brown coal is considered the lower grade version of fuel due to its relatively low energy content and has resulted in some of Australia’s dirtiest power plants, some of which have already closed or are expected to close.
“The important thing is that hydrogen is cost competitive and that Victorian-era lignite is a cheap source of hydrogen,” said Hirofumi Kawazoe, general manager of Kawasaki’s Hydrogen Engineering Australia unit. .
The project produces hydrogen by reacting coal with oxygen and steam under high heat and pressure in a process that also produces carbon dioxide and other gases.
If the project becomes commercial, the carbon dioxide would be buried off Victoria. The state governments of Australia and Victoria are running a parallel project to test the transport and injection of carbon dioxide under the seabed.
Studies show that the hydrogen produced from coal using such carbon capture and storage technology is half to one-third of the cost of producing green hydrogen, said Jeremy Stone, director of J-Power on the project.
Green hydrogen is produced using wind and solar energy to split water and, unlike hydrogen produced from coal, is weather dependent.
Groups campaigning to end the use of lignite say, however, that the project is a waste of money.
“The technology will be replaced in the coming years by clean hydrogen from renewable energies. Any investment in a carbon-hydrogen infrastructure will quickly become a white elephant, ”said Nicholas Aberle, Director of Campaigns at Environment Victoria.
The hydrogen produced at the 70 kilograms per day (154 pounds per day) demonstration plant will be transported by trailer to a port site where it will be liquefied for export.
The first shipment to Japan has been postponed to the second half of this year due to COVID-19 restrictions which slowed the tanker’s final checks.
Project partners include Iwatani Corp, Marubeni Corp, Sumitomo Corp and AGL Energy Ltd, whose mine supplies lignite.