The first step in what could be Australia’s hydrogen fuel revolution is being taken in Fyshwick by local energy provider ActewAGL and its partner, French renewable energy company Neoen.
ActewAGL has lodged plans for the first refuelling centre of its kind in Australia to be built at its compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Mildura Street.
The new hydrogen facility will augment the CNG facility and service a new fleet of 20 Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the ACT Government as part of its commitment to sustainable energy sources and technologies.
But the new facility, which will cost $2.8 million, will also be available to the public, making Canberra the first Australian city to have such a service.
Hydrogen vehicles are emissions-free, compared to a standard petrol vehicle, which emits about 4600 kg of carbon a year on average.
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.
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.
ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said when the project was announced last May that the building of the station in Mildura Street was a momentous step towards the ACT’s transition to 100 per cent renewable energy and zero-emission transport.
When all of the ACT’s electricity is sourced from renewable generation after 2020, transport will account for 60 per cent of remaining emissions. To help reduce the transport emissions, the government is committed to having half of its passenger car fleet electric by 2019-20.
Neoen believes hydrogen is an exciting opportunity to decarbonise many other sectors of the Australian economy, and potentially foreign sectors as well, through the export of renewable hydrogen.
Late last year, energy ministers voted to adopt a National Hydrogen Strategy.
In Fyshwick, the hydrogen fuel will be delivered through an additional dispenser located under the existing canopy.
ActewAGL says the proposed addition of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure on the site is in keeping with the current usage and zoning of the site, and environmental impacts will be low.
The Crown lease will need to be varied to add ‘municipal depot’ as a permitted use.
The DA says that a hydrogen facility is similar to a conventional petrol station, but it generates fuel (through electrolysis) and stores the product on site, eliminating the need to transport fuel to the site.
The upgrade will require the installation of a new electrolyser, compressor, purifier, cooling units and storage facilities.
The proposed site works include the construction of six new concrete slabs, a block wall infill and extensions and modifications to the existing gates and site security fencing.
Small areas of existing soft landscaping will be reclaimed for the construction of the concrete slabs. Two trees are proposed to be removed as part of the works. All other trees near the works will be protected.