27 March 2021

Australia’s first public hydrogen refuelling station opens in Canberra

| Ian Bushnell
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Hydrogen refuelling station

One of the 20 Hyundai Nexo SUV fuel cell electric vehicles at the Fyshwick refuelling station. Photos: Supplied.

Australia’s first clean hydrogen refuelling station has opened at ActewAGL’s existing CNG facility in Fyshwick. It will service the ACT Government’s new 20-strong fleet of Hyundai hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and be open to members of the public.

Canberrans will see ACT public servants on the road in the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen vehicles from Monday (29 March).

The government passenger fleet of 611 vehicles now includes 139 zero-emissions vehicles – 49 battery electric vehicles (BEVs), 70 plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and the 20 Hyundai Nexo fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The fleet will transition to emissions-free as the ACT progresses to zero net emissions by 2045.

The refuelling station, to be operated by ActewAGL, and the 20 vehicles, were delivered as part of French renewable energy company Neoen’s contract with the ACT Government to supply electricity from the Hornsdale Wind Farm Stage 3.

Shane Rattenbury and Jo Clay

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury and Greens MLA Jo Clay at the Fyshwick station.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury said the opening was a major milestone in the roll-out of zero-emissions vehicles and adds further momentum to Canberra’s renewable energy innovation.

He said clean hydrogen, produced through electrolysis with 100 per cent renewably sourced electricity, and electric vehicles, were part of an emissions-free transport system, and the ACT would embrace both.

“This is not an either/or situation,” Mr Rattenbury said.

He said hydrogen tended to be used in larger vehicles and had applications in ships and trains, while EVs tended to dominate the passenger sedan market.

“We’ll see applications of both,” he said. “These are the first 20 hydrogen cars registered in Australia.

“Hyundai sold more than 10,000 vehicles in Korea last year, so it gives an idea of the scale that’s possible.”

Mr Rattenbury said more refuelling stations need to be built so it’s more convenient and there is extra capacity, just as the ACT is building more EV charging stations.

Hydrogen fuel cell motor

Look what’s under the hood.

Hydrogen vehicles use a fuel cell stack to create electricity which drives the vehicle’s electric motor. A fuel cell stack uses stored hydrogen, mixes it with oxygen and creates electricity – the only by-product is water.

The process effectively makes the hydrogen vehicles mobile air filters, helping to remove harmful particulates produced by petrol and diesel vehicles from the air.

As well as providing fuel for the government fleet and the public, the Fyshwick project will help industry players understand the long-term operating costs of hydrogen refuelling stations.

ActewAGL CEO John Knox said the station was an important step in the ACT’s transition to zero emissions and it was vital to keep all options open.

“It’s not about picking winners. Today is about giving optionality,” he said.

“If we have further investment in the hydrogen industry in Canberra, I am absolutely confident that will it play a larger role in decarbonising both the transport and energy sector.”

The hydrogen fuel manufactured on-site will be delivered through an additional dispenser located under the existing canopy at the Fyshwick station.

A new electrolyser, compressor, purifier, cooling units and storage facilities, as well as six new concrete slabs, a block wall infill and extensions and modifications to the existing gates and site security fencing, were installed at a cost of $2.8 million.

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What do you mean – you’d rather me house my car in the garage instead of all the useless junk that’s been in there for years!? Preposterous! 🙂

Unfortunately the vast majority of hydrogen comes from steam reforming of natural gas, 95% according to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_production

I guess choice is good though, as Mr Rattenbury says.

This Hydrogen is produced from the electrolysis of water.

The idea would be to use renewable energy sources to produce hydrogen during off peak periods which then acts as a form of energy storage so that larger electricity network upgrades are not required as would be the case if all cars were electric.

Chewy14, thanks for the clarification. If this hydrogen is really from the Hornsdale 3 wind farm (which I now see in the article above – mea culpa!), then it does seem like a good idea. The more ways we can store renewable energy, the better.

I have been told that water could be trucked (for places without a good supply of water), rather than trucking hydrogen, to fuelling stations and the hydrogen produced there, by solar or wind. Either their own solar and wind generation (remote places), or from the grid.

Capital Retro10:36 pm 29 Mar 21

I have found on the internet that these hydrogen powered cars cannot be parked in “enclosed spaces” like your home garage.

“Parking a hydrogen vehicle or other gas-fueled vehicle in an enclosed structure is a
serious safety concern as it can lead to a buildup of the gas. Hydrogen’s tendency to rise and
disperse rapidly makes this the only situation in which small leaks can create extremely
dangerous situations.”

Comments from the experts please?

Yeah, that’s not true.

Whilst hydrogen fuel cell cars do have inherent risks due to the nature of hydrogen and the very high pressure it’s stored in the cars, this is ameliorated through the design of the cars and the tanks themselves.

The fact that hydrogen is lighter than air actually makes it a lower risk of explosion in enclosed areas because leaks don’t pool in low lying areas like petrol or other gaseous fuel types.

Capital Retro1:31 pm 30 Mar 21

Tell that to the passengers on the Graf Zeppelin.

Capital Retro,

if you want to bring up irrelevant examples might as well go the whole hog and talk about the risk of a thermonuclear explosion occurring from one of these cars.

Capital Retro4:47 pm 30 Mar 21

What I said about possible risks was part of a study I read on the internet, not my own deliberation.

I’m glad that you have determined there is no risk but I still won’t be driving in one.

I’ve read lots of studies on the issue but perhaps you want to link the specific study you are talking about first.

And then perhaps you can inform us whether you found the study whilst deliberately searching for information on the internet about how Hydrogen cars are dangerous or unsafe?

Then, I want you to conduct an experiment by typing different information into the search bar, like “why are hydrogen cars safe” or “why do hydrogen cars not explode”.

Then Voila, you’ll find a whole heap of studies that say the opposite of what you’re attempting to claim.

Parking in enclosed spaces should be an issue in Canberra – I don’t understand it, but many Canberrans seem to prefer to leave their cars out in the weather (even in the frost) rather than park them in their garage

Capital Retro9:41 am 02 Apr 21

So you are getting all your positive info from the internet too? Silly me, I thought you were a natural expert.

James-T-Kirk9:08 pm 28 Mar 21

My jovial comment was deleted. So I wiglll get straight to the point.

What mechanisms are in place to prevent members of the public fueling their own incompatable canisters with hydrogen and causing themselves significant damage.

They have special hydrogen fittings and couplings so cannot be used for other types of canisters.

What’s to prevent members of the public filling their own incompatible canisters with petrol?

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