CHOICE membership

Australia and the Hydrogen Economy

We have a Category for Solar and one for Energy.

Perhaps with time we will need one for hydrogen.

Hydrogen is seen by some as a great opportunity for Australia. It can readily fit into so many different parts of the economy, and it may also find a ready export market. It has the potential to change how consumers see and use energy in many different ways.

Hydrogen can fuel electric vehicles, it can be used as an alternate storage for energy, used in minerals processing, for heat energy and to replace natural gas.

It seems to have favour with the Federal Govt. Energy Minister Angus Taylor and PM Scott Morrison seem to be keen to promote it, and a technology roadmap.

A strategy on a hydrogen future already has the support of the CSIRO who provided a roadmap late last year. That “roadmap” word again.


The long version.

And with several state governments keen to get onboard it is interesting to note:

Aside from the trials of Hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles, what else is there to share?

3 Likes

For anyone wondering about being at the front of the consumer hydrogen revolution (bleeding edge). It can be done, although there are no CEC home hydrogen installers. There are also rules and regulations to consider, but it looks possible.

One way to provide an alternate home electrical supply other than solar and battery is to couple a hydrogen fuel cell to a 24/240v inverter.

Fuel cell,
https://www.fuelcellearth.com/fuel-cell-products/horizon-1000w-pem-fuel-cell/

Around $6,600 AUD for 1,000W output.
While that doesn’t sound like much, over 24hrs it will produce 50% more electricity than most homes use in a day. Perhaps great when combined with a home battery. Smaller capacity battery required.

Hydrogen,
One option, LindeGas HiQ 99.995% grade.
Comes in a bottle the same as a welding gas or oxygen, nitrogen etc.
http://hiq.linde-gas.com/en/images/HiQ%20Hydrogen_tcm899-92231.pdf

Or for those desiring green hydrogen (as the industrial suppliers typically produce their hydrogen from hydrocarbons) produce your own. $100,000 give or take plus extras.

I also found this enterprising option online.
http://www.hysolgenics.com/page10.html

P.S.
It may be evident why for now hydrogen as an energy source needs to be considered differently to rechargeable storage batteries. There is no hydrogen equivalent in the consumer home energy market competing with a Tesla Powerwall.

3 Likes

Many other countries are looking at hydrogen as a majoy energy source to replace fossil fuels. These include:

Japan strategy is interesting as it is investing heavily into research to reduce the cost of non-fossil fuel based hydrogen and has targets to make it cost compatible with traditional fossil fuels (e.g. petroleum based products) in the medium term. When this occurs, it will be a significant game changer for hydrogen and how the energy is used.

There are some who are highly negative of hydrogen, a good example of Eton Musk (Telsa) who is highly critical of hydrogen…as it directly competes and potentially out competes with li-ion and other battery technologies especially if the Japanese price points are achieved) with battery systems.

Hydrogen also has the potential to be made from nuclear and renewable generators, when there is excess generation capacity to the demand (such as off peak times). At such times energy prices are low and the resukting costs of hydrogen generation is also low.

The CSIRO focus on reducing the cost of hydrogen production (electrolysis) also considered the capital costs and efficiency of the technology.

To maximise the benefit of the high capital investment in hydrogen production would Electrolyzers run 24x7? In that instance production would be subject to the daily electricity price demand cycle.

The CSIRO has a Tornado chart which illustrates the complexity of the investment decisions. It is easier to look at the following graphic which followed. The potential for lower electricity costs to reduce the cost of hydrogen production by $1.17/kg or $1.27/kg best case.(20-25%)

The cost model is based on known and forecast electrical energy costs applicable to Australia.

Producing hydrogen only from daytime solar or after hours surplus wind is an option. The CSIRO has not costed that option. At a rough estimate it could double the cost of the hydrogen produced. Which may be economical compared to hydrocarbons as a fuel, given the high efficiency of fuel cells compared to ICE.

P.S.
Japan says it wants to reduce the cost of hydrogen to the consumer by 90% to achieve it’s goals. It’s not clear what science this ambition is based on? A long term target price of 30Yen or about $0.40 per kg.

The CSIRO has developed an effective technology for converting hydrogen gas into ammonia. The benefits of this for distribution of hydrogen as a fuel have come up on the separate discussion topic on alternate vehicle fuels.
https://choice.community/t/electric-and-alternative-vehicle-fuels/15833

The same technology has application for the industrial production of “low carbon footprint” ammonia in the fertiliser industry. A 200Mt pa industry.

Progress on a pilot plant in WA between Norwegian companies Yara and Nel.

Ammonia is also used in the production of mining explosives and some mineral extraction processes. Typically from petroleum products or natural gas.

1 Like

Hydrogen is currently an essential part of delivering lower carbon solutions to industry. It is also readily transported and provides an alternate energy storage source to battery technology. As you suggest, the cost of production appears to be a hurdle, similar in constraint to the high cost of lithium storage batteries.

As a source of raw energy hydrogen is often compared with the value of gas, LNG and CNG. Thermal coal is valued on a similar basis.

Australia currently exports LNG at contract prices around $10/GigaJoule. Spot prices vary from less than $6/GJ with past peaks of up to $20/GJ.

In comparison hydrogen at a nominal energy density of 120MJ/kg, compares unfavourably.
Approx $21/GJ at the $2.54 CSIRO best case future production cost.

The current cost of hydrogen from green electricity is not economically comparable.

Notes:
Bloomberg provided an interesting assessment of the hydrogen economy and it’s future. Note: Paid viewing once you use up your first few free views.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-21/cost-of-hydrogen-from-renewables-to-plummet-next-decade-bnef

A couple of comments.

On the cost of hydrogen (US$ quoted)
Renewable hydrogen costs may fall to as low as $1.40 a kilogram by 2030 from the current range of $2.50 to $6.80, BNEF said in the report.

The target cost suggested by Bloomberg’s report of US$1.40 or around AU$2.00 is below the CSIRO best case estimate of $2.54 per kg.

An Investment Opportunity?
Without political support, a hydrogen economy wouldn’t likely develop, leading to a slight rise in electrolyzers by 2050.

Tied to China for Equipment Manufacture?
Chinese manufacturers lead the way in low-cost manufacturing of hydrogen production equipment.

Really an aside, it illustrates the benefits of China’s lower cost workforce and coal powered economy.

Tell 'em the price!

Hydrogen is nowhere near being an economic choice at the moment, and all the talk of the price plummeting reminds me of the talk of battery prices doing the same, something I’ve been hearing for decades. It is yet to happen.

Our government is keen on Hydrogen, I suspect mainly as a way of keeping the (hopefully soon to be dying) fossil fuel industry alive.

Producing Hydrogen for energy storage is still extremely inefficient compared with other storage methods such as Lithium batteries or pumped hydroelectric energy storage, so unless there really are going to be huge changes in production efficiency and cost, I can’t see it taking off for quite a while.

Most of the more serious pilot work relevant to Australia appears to be targeting industrial usage as a replacement for high carbon industries.

In respect of Australia becoming a major green Hydrogen energy exporter, it seems these days in government everything is commercial in confidence. It’s conceivable the first public evidence of any progress may be long after all the deals have been done.

And there are those seeking green “street cred” through vehicle trials.

Note: :slightly_smiling_face:

I haven’t seen an indicative price for the hydrogen supply for the Qld Q-Fleet trial. One source referenced the EU retail filling station price of approx AU$16/kg. With a solar and green energy mix the Bulwar Island trial plant has potential to deliver hydrogen at a lower cost.

I think the relevant Aussie comparison point might be an ICE petrol vehicle (7l/100km @$1.40/l) vs a Toyota Mirai or Hyundai Nexo (1kg H2/100km @$10.00/kg retail at the fueling station). The cost/efficiency relative to a BEV I think we covered in the Electric and alternate vehicle fuels topic.

Yes, there’s a big gap between the price of readily available hydrogen gas for small scale scientific and industrial use, vs the costs quoted for the US or by the CSIRO Hydrogen Roadmap. Note the CSIRO costs are production only, excluding transport, distribution and retail margins.

While bottled hydrogen is available these are for low volumes and with high overheads in distribution - Typically $25-$40/kg depending on purity and bottle size, plus bottle rental.

Caution:
As per the often shown Hindenburg film clip hydrogen gas has risks associated with it’s safe use. In Australia it’s use outside of specific laboratory and industrial users has been rare. There has only been a handful of recent hydrogen vehicle trials.

Regulation (Safety and Opportunity):
This is yet to catch up, although now an agenda item for government. COAG is not noted for delivering quickly. More so when there are complex issues.
http://www.coagenergycouncil.gov.au/sites/prod.energycouncil/files/publications/documents/nhs-hydrogen-industry-legislation-report-2019_0.pdf

2 Likes

An article regarding the construction of a pilot plant in WA to produce fertilizer without any carbon input.

Great stuff.

image

Gladstone tipped to become a leader in the hydrogen economy.