Hydrogen is one of the enablers for decarbonisation and the transition to net zero. It’s a form in which renewable energy can be shipped and consumed around the world. As hydrogen fast becomes a fuel of choice for economies looking to decarbonise, Australia could significantly influence global carbon emissions as a producer and exporter of hydrogen or derivatives.
On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) engaged Aurecon as its Technical Advisor to evaluate commercial-scale renewable hydrogen projects to receive funding as part of its Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round.
Three projects were selected for their ability to initiate large-scale renewable hydrogen production in Australia. One of the projects will use clean hydrogen to make ammonia for export, and the other two will blend clean hydrogen into Australia’s gas pipelines to help decarbonise the country’s natural gas networks.
As the Technical Advisor, Aurecon advised ARENA on the technical solution supply chain viability, site suitability, Capex and Opex, technical risks and opportunities, timeline to achieve financial investment decision, project delivery, and commercialisation pathway of the proposed projects.
The funding round process consisted of two stages. In the first stage, 36 expressions of interest were received and following an initial assessment, seven projects were shortlisted to submit a full application in stage two, which involved a further detailed assessment.
After the extensive assessment process, the final three projects were selected by ARENA to drive the commercialisation of key component technologies at scale for the selected hydrogen end use applications and facilitate cost reductions for producing renewable hydrogen. The electrolysers in these renewable hydrogen plants will be among some of the largest so far built in the world.
The assessment process considered the credibility of proposed technical applications, along with a review of the timeline to financial investment decision that could bring the project to market as soon as possible.
Aurecon assessed each applicant’s technical solution and project delivery approach, as well as the service elements that are vital to a start-up hydrogen facility. These are renewable energy solution, grid connection for power supply, water supply and treatment, development application, interface/end use infrastructure, planning and environmental, regulatory and safety requirements.
The role of Aurecon was assisting ARENA to identify which investments and technologies, pathways and offtake agreements, have the collective significant impact to act as a catalyst for bringing down the cost of hydrogen produced using renewable energy, and growing job skills and capacity to meet future global demand.
The funding round allows these projects to meet the initial cost gap of renewable hydrogen production against what the market is prepared to pay, in comparison to alternative hydrogen production technologies (steam methane reforming and coal gasification).
This will help accelerate the commercialisation at scale and cost reduction pathway to create and sustain a renewable hydrogen market that is competitive against the production alternatives, as well as with more traditional energy sources such as natural gas.
Transitioning industry and suppliers into the Australian renewable hydrogen market is an enabler to initiate the decarbonisation of other sector-specific resources, products and materials, such as natural gas, ammonia, transportation vehicles, power generation, nickel and steel.
The next decade will be a fascinating time for hydrogen, with the rapid growth of commercial-scale deployments of renewable hydrogen in Australia having access to renewable energy resources, proving of domestic applications, and with international interest in its export set to change the decarbonisation landscape.
Aurecon is excited to be supporting clients in their navigation of the challenges and opportunities presented in this rapidly evolving field and continues to be at the forefront of this industry through its roles such as this one with ARENA.
We continue to work alongside industry to progress towards a decarbonised global economy by joining initiatives such as the Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative (Australian Industry ETI), to accelerate the impact of emissions reductions across hard-to-abate sectors.
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