HESC project milestone: Hydrogen gas now produced at Latrobe Valley site

HESC Project Partners are proud to announce that hydrogen gas is successfully being produced from Latrobe Valley coal as part of the world-first Hydrogen Supply Chain Pilot Project

This is a crucial project milestone as it means hydrogen gas can soon be transported by truck to an Australian first liquefaction and loading terminal at the Port of Hastings, where the hydrogen gas will be liquefied and stored.  Following this process, the liquid hydrogen will be transported by a specially designed hydrogen marine carrier ship to Kobe, Japan.

This milestone is a step closer to achieving a global energy transition to lower emissions via using hydrogen as a fuel — the fuel of the future.

The pilot project is delivered by experienced Japanese and Australian industry partners and supported by the Victorian, Australian and Japanese Governments.

Coregas committed to supporting initiatives that drive innovation for clean energy

Coregas, one of the largest hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and argon producers in Australia, has been an integral part of the HESC project. The company is providing engineering consultancy, onsite support and equipment for the gasification plant at Loy Yang in the Latrobe Valley and the Australian first liquefaction and loading facility at Port of Hastings.

Paul Vandenbrink – Coregas Site Manager in Hastings. Copyright of HESC.

Paul Vandenbrink has a wealth of experience in the steel production and gas industries. In his new venture, working as a Site Manager in Hastings, he says, “It’s fantastic to see growing momentum for a hydrogen industry in Victoria and Australia. I’m excited to be part of this world-first project”.

Mr Vandenbrink relocated from NSW six months ago and has settled in Mornington, which is close to Hastings.

“Coregas is proud to be involved in such an environmentally significant project like HESC and it’s exciting to step forward in the hydrogen energy industry as it is a demonstration of potential for a whole new export market and pathway to renewable energies” he said.

Coregas has been involved in the FEED (Front End Engineering Design) for the liquefaction plant in Hastings and has provided support for the detailed design of the plant. Further to this, Coregas is providing all the utility and specialised calibration gases to both facilities, the hydrogen compressor for the gasification plant and transportation services to move both liquefied and gaseous hydrogen.

A Coregas team of 12 is providing experienced engineering and maintenance support to run and maintain the liquefaction and loading facility in Hastings. The team belong to a company experienced at working with hydrogen – running the largest hydrogen merchant plant at Bluescope Steel’s Port Kembla steelworks.

Using this experience, Coregas’s expertise in the production and handling of hydrogen will be vital in the safe and efficient operation of the Hastings plant, as well as assisting with the loading of the world’s first liquid hydrogen carrier ship, the Suiso Frontier, when it arrives at the Port of Hastings this year. Coregas will also provide technical support at the Latrobe Valley site once operational.

When asked about the most interesting piece of equipment being used at the Hastings site, Paul spoke of the hydrogen liquefier, which has high-speed turbines, heat exchange and compression and expansion to create extremely cold temperatures of -253 degrees Celsius.

Working on the project during COVID-19 hasn’t been without its challenges. COVID restrictions meant a 25% restriction of the number of people on-site, work and travel permits needing approval and deep cleans being required at the sites. Furthermore, the lack of toilet paper, hand sanitiser and masks presented more of a challenge. Nonetheless, Coregas implemented a COVIDSafe plan and successfully maintained operations during the tough period.

When asked about working with HESC project partner Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), Mr Vandenbrink said, “It has been an honour to work with the reputable team at KHI. We have been able to learn a lot about each other’s culture and together we have collaborated to deliver this fantastic initiative”.

Note on the hydrogen liquefier: The hydrogen liquefier works by pressurised hydrogen gas being fed into a vacuum-insulated cold box and getting pre-cooled with liquid nitrogen. Pre-cooled hydrogen gas is heat-exchanged with liquefied helium, which is produced from helium refrigeration cycle, then it is turned into liquid and transferred to an LH2 container.

CCS Capacity increased 33% in 2020

CCS Storage Overview. Copyright of Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

Global participation in carbon capture and storage (CCS) is increasing in the effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, according to a new report from the Global CCS Institute (GCCSI), the Global Status of CCS Report 2020.

The report found the total capacity of CCS facilities operating and under development has grown by 33% worldwide over the last year alone. There are a total of 65 commercial CCS facilities in various stages of development globally.

However, the report warned, “deployment of the technology is not happening quick enough to reach 2050 climate goals. CCS facilities will need to increase by more than a hundredfold by mid-century, as but one part of how the world will reach carbon neutrality.”

The report highlighted that CCS can enable the production of low-carbon hydrogen at scale, particularly in regions where large amounts of affordable renewable electricity from hydrogen-producing electrolysis is not available and fossil fuel prices are low.

When it comes to this type of hydrogen production, Victoria has a significant competitive advantage due to its abundant, world-class coal resources and world-leading potential for CCS (via the CarbonNet Project), all within the Gippsland region.

ASEAN nations partner on CCUS technologies

NikkeiAsia is reporting that Japan, Australia, the United States of America and 10 members of ASEAN are partnering to commercialise technology making carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) possible.

Carbon captured can be used as a feedstock to create new materials such as CO2 infused concrete and various industrial chemicals, creating new ways of storing carbon dioxide.

The ASEAN partnership will create ways to bury and reuse carbon dioxide in Southeast Asia to reduce CO2 emissions produced from energy infrastructure and industries.

The partnership is to be initiated in early 2021, after first being discussed among the member countries at East Asia Summit’s Energy Ministerial meeting in November.

CarbonNet Project update

The CO2CRC is CarbonNet’s lead research partner. Read more about how the CarbonNet Project provides a suitable CCS solution for a commercial HESC Project.

The CO2CRC’s Otway Storage Demonstration Project is getting ready to commence its Stage 3 CO2 injection activities. From November 2020 to April 2021, a total of 15,000 tonnes of CO2-rich gas will be injected into the subsurface beneath the Otway National Research Facility.

According to CarbonNet, successful application of these monitoring techniques is likely to translate into lower costs, higher quality of data and a smaller environmental footprint for CCS.

Gippsland owned company O&M putting locals on the job with HESC

100% Gippsland owned company O&M has been working with J-Power Latrobe Valley to put 70 locals on the job during the construction phase of the Latrobe Valley coal gasification and refining facility.

Established in 2013 and based in Morwell, the company employs over 150 people from the Gippsland region, which sometimes expands to 250 people when undertaking large projects and plant outages.

The company specialises in delivering electrical and maintenance services to the power, water, oil, gas and mining industries. The hydrogen industry has been an exciting new venture for the team.

O&M has been responsible for the full electrical and instrumentation scope for the construction of the Latrobe Valley site, working as an integral part of the plant team, including collaborating with Japanese partners from J-Power, engineering design consultants and the mechanical and structural builders of the site.

O&M has a pool of personnel that are qualified for working in the hydrogen industry. Their team have extensive cross-industry experience in large industrial environments such as the power, mining, water, oil and gas, pulp and paper sectors and in roles such as trades, plant operators, maintenance, supervisors and managers.

Those with experience from the mining industry are well versed in handling, conveying and processing large volumes of raw materials and operating, controlling and maintaining of the associated plant systems.

“We have up to eight staff that have worked on the systems, process and documentation development in the period leading up to operations and assisted with plant commissioning and process refinement. This team will transition to full-time Operators and Maintainers for the full operating phase of the pilot project” said Ian Green, O&M Business Manager.

The company is especially proud of the support and engagement they offer through its apprentice program, with six apprentices currently working for them. Two O&M HESC Project apprentices, Jay Murphy and Ashley Withell, shared their enthusiasm for working on the pilot project and the skills it is giving them to work in a new industry.

O&M staff enjoy working on the HESC Project as they are playing an integral part in emerging clean energy technology that will change the energy industry and lead to positive change in managing climate change.

The company sees great potential for the Gippsland region to become a new hydrogen energy hub and is confident the project will demonstrate the ability of the Gippsland region to support such projects through the provision of infrastructure, a technical and skilled workforce along with ready access to services and utilities.

Mr Green said, “The rich resources in the region can support new energy industries and the availability of locations for large project sites close to infrastructure, services and utilities required also makes the regional an optimal place for emerging industries.”

O&M look forward to the HESC Pilot Project succeeding and seeing what the commercial-scale opportunities will bring to Gippsland, including a large boost to employment and the local economy.

O&M workman on site. Copyright of HESC.

Hydrogen crucial to decarbonising the global transport industry

Nikola Hydrogen Truck. Copyright of Nikola Motors.

20% of all global emissions come from transport – cars, planes, trains, ships, trains and buses. The International Energy Agency predicts emissions will continue to increase unless there is a rapid shift away from using fossil fuels to power transport vehicles and new technology and cleaner fuels are adopted, quickly.

Hydrogen is a clean gas that produces only water as an emission when used as fuel for cars or heavy transport.

To reach emission reduction targets, it has been identified that a combination of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) will be required to reduce transport emissions.  FCEVs are often powered by hydrogen gas.

Batteries for electric vehicles are necessarily heavy, which reduces the freight load available to heavy vehicles. Fuel cells, powered by hydrogen gas, are much lighter giving vehicles greater range and carrying capacity.

The Hydrogen Council predicts that by 2050, hydrogen could power a global fleet of more than 400 million cars, 15 to 20 million trucks, and around 5 million buses, which constitute on average 20% to 25% of existing vehicle numbers. Hydrogen could also replace 5% of the world’s fuel supply to airplanes and freight ships by 2050.

The good news is that hydrogen transport technology is already on the road to becoming the fuel of the future.

Hydrogen and cars

With renewable and clean hydrogen, such as the type HESC could produce, FCEVs emit no CO2 and require fewer resources and energy in the manufacturing process than BEVs.

Three models of FCEVs are already offered commercially in Japan, South Korea, California, and Germany and the Hydrogen Council predicts FCEV cars could make up 3% of new vehicle sales in 2030.

Buses

FCEV buses will be able to go longer distances, operate with fewer interruptions and only exhaust water, compared to current models.

An Australian consortium by the name of H2OzBus Project aims to deploy 100 hydrogen-powered bus’ into Australia’s public transport network, with the long-term intention of a worldwide roll-out.

The International Association for Public Transport says fuel cell buses are expected to have a global market share of 2 per cent in 2020 and 10 per cent in 2030.

Trains

Rail engineering company Altsom has developed a commercial hydrogen-powered train, which was tested in Germany for 18 months, and is to now be run across Austria’s rail network.

The Austrian national rail operator is considering replacing diesel trains with the new hydrogen-powered design.

Alstom has also sold 41 hydrogen-powered trains to German operators and has begun work on the first hydrogen train refuelling station in Germany.

Trucks

The International Energy Agency predicts truck emissions that account for roughly 25% of CO2 emissions from the transportation sector today, will grow to 35 to 40% by 2050.

Hydrogen is advantageous for vehicles like trucks with long-range, mileage and payloads. Where 300km or more is being travelled, FCEV’s become less expensive to use than BEV’s.

Due to their high mileage and heavyweights, a hydrogen fuel cell truck fleet of 350,000 would have the same abatement potential as almost 2.5 million FCEVs in the passenger car segment.

Trucks for heavy and long-haul segments are expected to be commercially available within the next five years thanks to brands such as Toyota, Hyundai and Nikola Motors.

The fuel of the future 

Hydrogen technology in combination with other low emission technologies plays a significant role in reducing global CO2 emissions and reaching global climate goals.

There is currently tremendous hydrogen innovation and the world is talking about hydrogen potential. HESC Project Partners acknowledge that our common challenge is climate change and believes action is needed now. All forms of clean hydrogen can aid in transport decarbonisation.

Sources:

Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy

Power-Technology

Palisade Partners

The Conversation

Sustainable Bus

HESC webinar wrap-up: How the Latrobe Valley can play a role in Australia’s hydrogen future

More than 180 people tuned into the November 2020 HESC Project webinar.

Dr Patrick Hartley – Leader of CSIRO’s Hydrogen Industry Mission kicked off the presentation, outlining how hydrogen is critical for decarbonising industries; reducing global CO2 emissions; job creation; and creating new industries.

Dr Hartley said Australia’s availability of abundant resources, including Latrobe Valley coal and nearby carbon storage potential, gives the country potential to be a global hydrogen leader.

Why now? Key drivers around global decarbonisation, like the Paris Climate Agreement, now exist.

Also, the technology used to produce hydrogen is maturing to the point of commercial viability–creating a market both on the demand and supply side.

Speaking about the National Hydrogen Strategy, Dr Hartley said, “The strategy is an unprecedented agreement by all Governments—Federal, State and Territory. To pursue this industry development, it will be significant as we move forward because it is very much going to take a team Australia effort to get this industry going”.

Jeremy Stone – Non-Executive Director of J-Power Latrobe Valley explained that the HESC Pilot Project will ‘prove-up’ an international hydrogen from Latrobe Valley coal supply chain.

Mr Stone shared three major reasons the project partners aim to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen from Latrobe Valley coal with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)—urgency, scalability and affordability.

Mr Stone said the infrastructure created by the HESC Project to transport, liquefy, store and ship hydrogen is the same infrastructure renewable hydrogen projects will need.

He also discussed how the highly skilled workers it will create shall be job-ready for the future energy sector. In the pilot, approximately 150 direct jobs were created for the construction phase at the Latrobe Valley site, while 10 are operating the facility.

Hirofumi Kawazoe – General Manager of Hydrogen Engineering Australia provided an update on the Hastings site, where commissioning is now complete. Coregas now operate and maintain the site on a 24/7 shift basis.

Mr Kawazoe explained how hydrogen gas received from the Latrobe Valley will be liquefied and cooled to -253 degrees Celsius at the Hastings site—reducing the gas to 1/800th of its volume, making transport of hydrogen on the Suiso Frontier more efficient.

He shared that project partner, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, leant on 25 years of technology development to build the cryogenic hydrogen storage tank.

Around 60 jobs were created during construction of the Hastings site and 15 employees are operating the facility.

Ian Filby – Project Director of the CarbonNet project explained the focus on CCS in Gippsland, which has world-leading potential because of its CO2 storage capacity.

The existing highly skilled workforce is advantageous, and CarbonNet can support businesses in Gippsland that transition to new industries.

“Why are we doing this? Well, it’s all about climate change. We know from the science of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and other world-leading organizations that CCS is fundamental to reaching our goal of net-zero emissions and the agreements reached in Paris,” said Mr Filby.

“We know that CCS is necessary for climate change, we know that it’s cost-effective, and we know that it works because it’s been operating for close to 50 years in different places around the world.”

According to most recent data from the Global CCS Institute, there are now 58 CCS facilities in various stages of development globally. These include 20 in operation, three under construction, and 35 in various stages of development with an estimated combined capture capacity of 127 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Finally, Jane Oakley – Chief Executive Officer of Committee for Gippsland discussed what clean energy projects could mean for the future of Gippsland.

Ms Oakley said the priority for Gippsland is to secure itself as a clean energy powerhouse. The Committee will continue to work with regional stakeholders, government and community members to lead the transition to a clean energy future.

“HESC presents a significant advantage for us here in Gippsland. It offers proven technology and an established supply chain, which puts us in a really strong position and provides a foundation in leading innovative hydrogen production and opening up new opportunities for cleaner technologies,“ Ms Oakley said.

 “Also, we need to leverage existing assets and capability. Imagine the economic loss in allowing the region’s power lines, pipelines, and easements to become stranded given the potential of Gippsland to produce renewable and low emissions electricity and hydrogen.”

Concluding the session, Dr Hartley said, “This is a very important project globally. Demonstrating this supply chain is not something that’s happening in many countries at all. So, I think the region and Australia should be very proud to be hosting this demonstration. It’s very, very significant”.

Mr Stone concluded, “We’re available and we’re accessible and we want to hear from Gippsland people about their visions, their aims and their concerns.”

You can get in touch with HESC by emailing info@hydrogenenergysupplychain.com or calling 1800 875 251.

Q&A’s and a recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

November 25th, 2020 Latrobe Valley Webinar Recording and Q&A

Recording


HESC held a webinar on the 25th of November,2020 to discuss how the Latrobe Valley can be at the forefront of the national energy transition to lower emissions via clean hydrogen. A wrap-up of the event can be read here.

Panellists included:

Dr Patrick Hartley, Leader of CSIRO’s Hydrogen Mission

Jeremy Stone, Non-Executive Director of J-Power Latrobe Valley

Ian Filby, Project Director of the CarbonNet Project

Hirofumi Kawazoe, General Manager of Hydrogen Engineering Australia Pty Ltd

Jane Oakley, Chief Executive Officer of Committee for Gippsland

Q&A

Is there a risk that a commercial project becomes commercially and socially stranded by 2030 if the cost of renewable hydrogen comes down as predicted?

We encourage all forms of clean hydrogen production because it is a central pillar of the energy transformation required to limit global warming.

Urgency: However, as the consequences of climate change are tied to the cumulative emissions in the atmosphere, every year of delay adds to our problem.

Price: Additionally, the practical reality is that hydrogen made from fossil fuel with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) costs 2-3 times less than hydrogen from renewables. While parity may be achieved as soon as 2030, we believe action must be taken between now and then to reduce CO2 emissions.

Scale: Scaling up production of clean hydrogen from coal with CCS is considered comparatively simple compared to renewable methods because the technology has been in use for decades – globally there are five low-carbon hydrogen production facilities with CCS in operation[1].

Rapid scale is deemed necessary to meet projected hydrogen demand and reach net zero emissions by 2050[2]. A commercial-scale HESC Project could operate 24/7 and would produce up to 225,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year in the 2030s, as referred to by the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) in 2015. 

We believe that all forms of clean hydrogen are needed to meet demand and address climate change.

Why Latrobe Valley coal over any other type of coal?

The HESC Project will create a sustainable solution for the use of abundant Latrobe Valley coal reserves that will lower global carbon emissions.

Latrobe Valley coal has been identified as one of the most cost-effective, stable and efficient sources for the creation of hydrogen with significant production efficiencies when compared with other sources. 

Producing clean hydrogen using a fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage (CCS), CCS is presently, as assessed by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the most economical way to produce clean hydrogen at scale.

When it comes to this type of hydrogen production, Victoria has a significant competitive advantage. This is due not only to the coal resources but also due to its world-leading potential for CCS, all within the Gippsland region. With ten years of development behind it and successful testing to date, CarbonNet presents an affordable CCS solution for the HESC commercial phase.

What is Australia’s advantage over other countries for exporting hydrogen?

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), in a report released in August 2018 entitled Opportunities for Australia from hydrogen exports, examined Australia’s competitive position relative to other potential suppliers of hydrogen for export.

Regarding potential exports of hydrogen to China, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore, it found Australia is in a relatively good competitive position due to factors such as:

  • The landed cost of hydrogen
  • Proximity to the market
  • Having well-established energy trading relationships – for example, Australia and Japan have an important economic relationship and the HESC project will further strengthen the enduring trade and investment ties between Australia and Japan.
  • Experience in large scale energy infrastructure construction
  • An ability to supply low or zero-carbon hydrogen from a range of sources.

What will be the cost of hydrogen produced in a commercial HESC Project?

One purpose of the HESC Pilot is to conduct an analysis of the economic feasibility of producing hydrogen gas from coal in the Latrobe Valley, liquefying it and exporting it to Japan.

According to 2019 data from the IEA, hydrogen made from fossil fuel with CCS costs significantly less than hydrogen from renewables – USD $1.20 –2.60/kg, compared to USD $3.20-7.70.

HESC Project Partners are confident they can deliver cost-competitive hydrogen.

Will hydrogen trucks carry liquid hydrogen from the Latrobe Valley to Port of Hastings or will a new hydrogen pipeline be required to export hydrogen to Japan?

In the HESC pilot, the gaseous hydrogen will be transported from the Latrobe Valley to the Port of Hastings by pressurised tube trailer, with one trip expected each month for a period of three months. The hydrogen gas is liquefied and then loaded on to a specially designed marine carrier for shipment to Japan.

A commercial-scale project will require a hydrogen pipeline from the point of production to the port (location to be confirmed).

Is the HESC project committed to using liquid hydrogen or are other options, such as ammonia or LOHCs, on the table as well?

The HESC Pilot is focused on liquid hydrogen to prove its technical and commercial feasibility as a hydrogen carrier. The reason why the HESC Project uses liquid hydrogen as a hydrogen carrier is that it reduces the volume dramatically (1/800th) which is ideal for mass transport and storage.

Liquefied hydrogen does not need to be converted back to hydrogen (if ammonia or LOHC is used as a carrier, it is necessary to convert them back to hydrogen). There are some additional challenges with ammonia carrying methods that mean that in some areas this methodology is not preferable.

How much hydrogen does the tank on the ship hold?

The liquid hydrogen tank on the Suiso Frontier has a capacity of 1,250m3.

What is the HESC Projects future in terms of commercialisation?

The pilot phase will need to be completed and the results reviewed before detailed planning for the commercial phase can take place. The HESC partners will consider in detail the economics, engineering, environment, and community. If the pilot phase is successful, the HESC project is currently planned to enter its commercial phase in the 2030s.

What is the percentage of the emissions that can be captured for this project?

In a commercial HESC Project, a target of 90% of CO2 emissions from the gasification and refining process will be captured.

Has there been incident management planning conducted to ensure any potential hydrogen leaks, fires or explosions are quickly mitigated? If yes, will these be made available?

Pure hydrogen gas is not toxic and cannot ignite or explode spontaneously. An ignition source and oxidizer (like oxygen) must be present. When handled responsibly and safely, hydrogen is no more or less dangerous than other flammable fuels like natural gas and gasoline.

Measures have been put in place along all stages of the supply chain to prevent, detect and mitigate the risk of hydrogen leaks. These are in accordance with government standards for portable gases and fuels. Additional measures will be used to safely store liquid hydrogen which must be kept at extremely low temperatures, including the development of purpose-built ships for overseas transport.

The HESC project aligns with relevant Australian Standards. Hydrogen production facilities have been operating in Australia for many years. Furthermore, HESC Project Partners have conducted various risk assessment processes including HAZID (Hazard Identification Process) and HAZOP (Hazard Operability Study) and have installed necessary equipment such as a hydrogen leak detector and a ventilation system. Partners also have contacted local authorities such as the CFA (Country Fire Authority) to share the outcome of a safety study, request a review and obtain their approval. 

What percentage of CO2-e produced, including transport, liquefaction and re-gasification will be stored in CCS?

In a commercial HESC Project, a target of 90% of CO2 emissions from the gasification and refining process will be captured.While CCS will be a key aspect of a commercial-scale phase, CCS will not feature during the pilot project due to the small volumes of CO2 involved. During the pilot phase, the hydrogen gasification process will create a small amount of CO2 – equivalent to annual emissions from about 28 cars. Carbon offset measures have been arranged.

Does the strength of unions in the valley hinder future investment decisions in the region?

Further investment in HESC will be informed by technical feasibility, social licence to operate, market demand and other macroeconomic factors. HESC Project Partners are committed to working cooperatively with all stakeholders to support jobs and economic growth in Gippsland. We believe that many local stakeholders share our view that producing clean hydrogen with coal provides a viable pathway for the Valley’s energy workers looking to transition to a new industry – the CFMEU recently wrote an article on this topic.  

For HESC, is there a hydrogen purity target for Australia to meet export requirements?

We are targeting 99.999% purity.

How many tonnes of CO2 is generated (and captured) when producing 225,000 tonnes of hydrogen?

The purpose of the HESC Pilot Project is to understand expected CO2 generation. CSIRO data states that coal gasification with CCS produces around 0.71 tonne of CO2 per tonne of hydrogen[3]. HESC will refine the CO2 generation it expects in a commercial phase after the pilot. In a commercial HESC Project, a target of 90% of CO2 emissions from the gasification and refining process will be captured.

When factoring in transport, liquefaction and re-gasification, what percentage of CO2-e is saved compared to burning brown coal in existing Latrobe Valley Power stations?

Hydrogen is a central pillar of the energy transformation required to limit global warming. Hydrogen can play a role in this transformation in more ways than one, while power generation is the core outputs of today’s coal-fired power stations provide

Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy contains insightful calculations on the CO2-e avoided if hydrogen is used as a fuel across several use cases. CO2-e is a carbon dioxide equivalent, a metric used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases to determine their individual and total contributions to global warming.

The strategy states that replacing Australian grid electricity with electricity from hydrogen avoids 15kg CO2-e per kilogram of hydrogen used. See page 17 of the strategy for further examples.  

HESC endeavours to calculate this percentage of CO2-e saved in the future.

The focus seems to be on export, but if you get to full commercialisation could there be a split to some domestic supply, i.e. dual supply?

The HESC Project was conceived with the primary aim of producing hydrogen in Australia for export and use in Japan. Interest in hydrogen has since grown both internationally and domestically, as industry and governments around the world investigate and execute decarbonisation strategies. HESC Project Partners are supportive of the export of hydrogen, domestic use, or a combination.

Is your gasification process effectively zero emissions? 

The gasification of coal to make hydrogen produces CO2. For this reason, a commercial HESC Project is contingent on being able to capture and safely store this CO2. The nearby CarbonNet Project provides a suitable CCS site. While CCS will be a key aspect of a commercial-scale phase, CCS will not feature during the pilot project due to the small volumes of CO2 involved. During the pilot phase, the hydrogen gasification process will create a small amount of CO2 – equivalent to annual emissions from about 28 cars. Carbon offset measures have been purchased.

In a commercial HESC Project, a target of 90% of CO2 emissions from the gasification and refining process will be captured.

Does the CO2 reduction estimate include the fossil fuel used to liquify the gas at Hastings?

A commercial-scale HESC Project could produce up to 225,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year in the 2030s, as referred to by NEDO (the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation) in 2015. We estimate this could reduce global CO2 emissions by 1.8 million tonnes per year, equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the road.

This estimation has been calculated as follows: Most of the hydrogen produced today is via steam methane reforming (SMR) with no CCS. Data in Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy reports that this produces around 8.5 tonne[4] of CO2 per tonne of hydrogen. CSIRO data states that coal gasification with CCS produces around 0.71 tonne of CO2 per tonne of hydrogen[5]. Therefore, the HESC Project could save 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 per year (8.5-.71*225,000).

What’s the energy source for maintaining the hydrogen in liquid form during shipping to Japan? Will hydrogen be lost in the journey if it is the energy source?

The marine carrier will use cryogenic storage tanks, which feature double-shell structure with vacuum insulation, to contain the liquefied hydrogen and keep it at a very low temperature. No energy source is needed.

One of the key elements of transporting liquefied hydrogen is preventing heat from turning the liquid hydrogen back into a gas.

This is known as ‘boil off gas’. Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) is developing specialised insulation technology to respond to this challenge.

Is there any other international market other than Japan?

In a recent joint media release from Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham and the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt, Australia was positioned ‘as a future hydrogen export powerhouse.’ The release announced the signing of an agreement with Germany that initiates a joint feasibility study into the potential for closer collaboration and the future development of a hydrogen supply chain between our two countries.

This partnership with Germany comes in addition to existing commitments Australia has already sought through the National Hydrogen Strategy with other like-minded economies including Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Information about the study and Australia’s hydrogen strategy is available on the Hydrogen Strategy website.

Are we expecting to build more liquefied hydrogen cargo ships in the near future?

Yes, we expect the development of additional liquefied hydrogen carriers in the future.

Why is the ship limited to so few trips?

The purpose of the pilot is to demonstrate integrated supply chain elements, not produce mass quantities of hydrogen. The main purpose of ship transportation is to validate safe liquid hydrogen transportation and collect and analyse data to apply to future commercial-scale development of equipment/facilities. We are providing a sufficient period of time needed for such analysis, a well as marine navigation training, hydrogen loading and cargo supply. 

What’s the investment cost for a liquid hydrogen ship?

The HESC Pilot will see close to half a billion Australian dollars invested by the Japanese and Australian industry partners, and the Victorian, Australian and Japanese Governments.

Where can we find out more information on the Hydrogen certification scheme?

https://consult.industry.gov.au/national-hydrogen-strategy-taskforce/hydrogen-certification-survey/

How far advanced is hydrogen as a potential energy source for consumers in Australia? For example, could it be used as an energy source in rural locations?

Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy sets a vision for a clean, innovative, safe and competitive hydrogen industry that benefits all Australians.

What sort of project scoping order of magnitude usage of H2 in maintaining -253 degrees and propelling a commercial size vessel and load would be acceptable to make the project worthwhile in the case being considered – e.g., Australia to Japan?

The marine carrier will use cryogenic storage tanks and vacuum insulation to contain the liquefied hydrogen and keep it at a very low temperature.

One of the key elements of transporting liquefied hydrogen is preventing heat from turning the liquid hydrogen back into a gas.

This is known as ‘boil off’. KHI has developed specialised insulation technology to respond to this challenge and will be testing its effectiveness during the pilot.

Once the pilot is complete and all data analysed, we will have a greater understanding of the project’s commercial viability.

Do you see the learnings from this project as transferrable knowledge to renewable hydrogen projects?

The infrastructure created by the HESC Project to transport, liquify, store and ship hydrogen is the same infrastructure renewable hydrogen projects will need. The highly skilled workers it will create shall be job-ready for the future energy sector.

This project could contribute to decarbonisation of the local gas networks or create markets for hydrogen used in fuel cell vehicles and power generation in Japan, and Australia. These are the same markets renewable hydrogen needs to see developed to become viable.

is it true that CCS carbon can later be re-extracted and used as fuel?

Captured carbon dioxide can be reused or recycled in several commercial applications. Carbon dioxide can also be used as a feedstock for new products.

What is the target cost of CCS from CarbonNet?

According to CarbonNet (see here), the relative costs of CO2 capture, transport and storage will depend on the location and industry.

  • Storage costs are related to the geological characteristics of sites
  • Transport costs are related to distance and pipeline capacity
  • Capture cost can vary significantly between industries, as some industrial processes separate the CO2 as part of their normal operations

The most cost-effective opportunities for CCS today are in the natural gas processing, fertiliser manufacturing, hydrogen production and biofuel sectors. The Australian Government’s latest Technology Investment Roadmap is targeting a stretch goal of CO₂ compression, hub transport, and storage under $20 per tonne of CO₂

Acknowledging that H2 is combustible and potentially explosively so, why don’t you use the CCS reservoirs that are capable of perfect and indefinite CO2 as large-scale temporary storage for renewable hydrogen?

Pure hydrogen gas is not toxic and cannot ignite or explode spontaneously. An ignition source and oxidizer (like oxygen) must be present. When handled responsibly and safely, hydrogen is no more or less dangerous than other flammable fuels like natural gas and gasoline.

While hydrogen is abundant in the universe, it is not freely available as a gas on Earth and must be extracted from water, fossil fuels, or biomass.

Once the hydrogen has been extracted from either water, fossil fuels, or biomass, it must be stored and handled in the same way. Locally, hydrogen gas is stored and transported in a high-pressure tube trailer from commercial operators who comply with Australian safety standards and are already storing and transporting hydrogen gas in Australia. For many reasons including this one, it is not possible to use CCS reservoirs to store hydrogen gas or liquid hydrogen – no matter the source.

Looking long term, do you expect that rehabilitation plans for Loy Yang will be delayed?

AGL Loy Yang rehabilitation plans will not be impacted by the HESC project in the short term and will continue to be developed in consultation with DEDJTR, EPA, the Rehabilitation Authority, community and other stakeholders. As we are in the early stages of the project it is difficult to say what impact a commercial HESC project would have.  Any changes to the plan would be in consultation with relevant stakeholders and regulators.  In the interim AGL continues to maintain a focus and active work on progressive rehabilitation in accordance with current and approved plans.


[1] https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/resources/publications-reports-research/net-zero-and-geospheric-return-actions-today-for-2030-and-beyond

[2] https://hydrogencouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Hydrogen-Scaling-up_Hydrogen-Council_2017.compressed.pdf

[3] Internal CSIRO calculation on lifecycle emissions for coal gasification with CCS: Bruce, S, Temminghoff, M, Hayward, J, Schmidt, E, Munnings, C, Palfreyman, D & Hartley, P 2018, National hydrogen roadmap, CSIRO, p67

[4] Office of Air and Radiation, 2008, Technical support document for hydrogen production: proposed rule for mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases, US Environmental Protection Authority, accessed 9 December 2020 via https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-11/australias-national-hydrogen-strategy.pdf

[5] Internal CSIRO calculation on lifecycle emissions for coal gasification with CCS: Bruce, S, Temminghoff, M, Hayward, J, Schmidt, E, Munnings, C, Palfreyman, D & Hartley, P 2018, National hydrogen roadmap, CSIRO, p67

HESC Project progress commended in Japan Australia Prime Ministerial Meeting

In a recent meeting between the Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia, the HESC Project was emphasised as a key area of cooperation between the two countries.

The HESC Project, along with hydrogen, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS or otherwise known as Carbon Recycling) were key items discussed by the two leaders as playing a fundamental role in the effort to move to cleaner energy solutions and reduce carbon emissions to meet net-zero targets.

The joint media statement from the two leaders read that they welcomed the progress made to date on the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project in the state of Victoria in Australia. The Leaders concurred to advance hydrogen cooperation to support national and global transitions to a resilient, low emissions economy.

A transcript of the meeting remarks can be viewed here.

HESC Project Partners appreciate the ongoing support from the Australian and Japanese Governments, which is crucial to its successful implementation of the HESC Project. Operations will commence soon, meaning both countries are one step closer towards deploying hydrogen as a clean, secure, affordable and sustainable energy source.

Completed sea trial of the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (KHI) conducted a successful world-first sea trial of the liquefied hydrogen carrier SUISO FRONTIER between the 14th and 15th of October.

KHI has been making steady progress to hand the vessel over to the CO2-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-chain Technology Research Association (HySTRA) and deliver a technology demonstration to establish an international hydrogen energy supply chain between Japan and Australia.

Read more about the SUISO FRONTIER and its importance to the HESC project here.

Webinar: How the Latrobe Valley can play a role in Australia’s hydrogen future

Australia’s emerging hydrogen industry is already showing promising signs of success and the Latrobe Valley is at the heart of this, thanks to the HESC Pilot Project.

Join this webinar to learn about the HESC Project’s progress since being launched in 2018 and understand how the Latrobe Valley can be at the forefront of the national energy transition to lower emissions via the fuel of the future, clean hydrogen. Community members will have the opportunity to ask all panellists questions.

Speaking at this webinar is:

  • Dr Patrick Hartley, Leader of CSIRO’s Hydrogen Mission
  • Jeremy Stone, Director of J-Power Latrobe Valley
  • Ian Filby, Project Director of the CarbonNet Project
  • Hirofumi Kawazoe, General Manager of Hydrogen Engineering Australia Pty Ltd
  • Jane Oakley, Chief Executive Officer of Committee for Gippsland

To attend the 10AM-11AM AEDT session (Patrick Hartley will only be speaking at 10AM) register here
To attend the 6PM-7PM AEDT session register here

Global status of CCS

Image Credit: Global CCS Institute

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of five priority low emissions technologies in the Australian Government’s First Low Emissions Technology Statement, because its widespread deployment will underpin new low emissions industries (including hydrogen) and provide a potential decarbonisation pathway for hard-to-abate industries.

CCS has been in commercial operation around the world for decades, in a wide variety of applications including power generation, industry and hydrogen production.

According to most recent data from the Global CCS Institute, there are now 58 CCS facilities in various stages of development globally. These include 20 in operation, three under construction, and 35 in various stages of development with an estimated combined capture capacity of 127 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) emphasises carbon capture as a key technology for emission reductions and estimates that roughly 2,000 CCS facilities are necessary by 2050, to limit global warming. An interactive map of CCS facilities around the globe can be found via the Global CCS Institute, here.

Among the facilities featured is one off the northwest coast of Western Australia. Here lies the Gorgon natural gas facility and the site of the largest dedicated geological storage CCS facility in the world. The Project is not yet at full capacity but plans to inject and permanently store between 3.4 and 4 million tonnes of CO2 each year. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the Gorgon Project by approximately 40 percent.

In February this year, the Gorgon Project passed the milestone of successfully capturing and storing one million tonnes of CO2 since commencing operations.

The Snøhvit CO2 Storage facilities is in the Barents Sea, offshore from Norway. The CO2 is captured at an LNG facility on the island of Melkøya, northern Norway and transported via pipeline back to the Snøhvit field offshore where it is injected into an offshore storage reservoir. The facility is designed to capture 0.7 million tonnes per year of CO2 and more than 4 million tonnes of CO2 has been stored to date since 2008.

Closer to home in Victoria, the CO2CRC Otway Project has been operating for over 15 years and has injected over 80,000 tonnes of CO2 as a demonstration site. It conducts extensive research internationally and in Australia to develop and improve processes, reduce uncertainty and decrease the cost of CCS. Research at the Otway site also feeds into the CarbonNet project. The commercial phase of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project requires a CCS solution, which is what the CarbonNet project provides.

Sources:
The Global CCS Institute
The Global CCS Institute database at co2re.co 
Chevron Australia
CO2CRC

Federation University researchers support HESC Pilot

Caption: Federation University, Image Credit Shishka Study Abroad

Federation University, in partnership with Australian Carbon Innovation, will analyse hydrogen production quality and performance of the gasification and refining plant in the Latrobe Valley as part of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Pilot.

The Hydrogen Production Evaluation Research Project will be delivered by researchers from Federation University’s Carbon Technology Centre who will work closely with J-POWER Latrobe Valley, which is designing, building and operating the hydrogen production facility.

Federation University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), Chris Hutchison said the partnership, “illustrates how Federation University’s regional campuses are ideally placed to support the growth of new Industries that will provide high value local employment for years to come”.

Researchers will assess samples of hydrogen produced from the pilot project, examine by-product composition, production efficiency and energy usage. Their analysis will help inform decision making on commercialising the HESC Project.

Australian Carbon Innovation Chief Executive Officer, Brian Davey, said: “This agreement is recognition that regional centres of higher learning such as Federation University, are able to provide world class research services to international companies that will help Gippsland transition to sustainable and low emission fuels for the future.”

Federation University and Australian Carbon Innovation’s work will build expertise and skills for a hydrogen future, a future with potential employment and economic development benefits to the local region and the nation.

“The HESC project offers a real opportunity for Latrobe Valley research agencies, universities, and technical firms to engage with and build knowledge and capacity in clean hydrogen production,” said Non-Executive Director of J-POWER LV, Jeremy Stone.

“A commercial-scale HESC Project would bring more innovation, technology and jobs as the region transition to a clean energy future.”

HESC playing part in shaping a hydrogen certification scheme

Australia is taking the lead in developing a Certificate of Origin for clean hydrogen and the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project is contributing to shaping these standards.

The scheme will cover emissions released in the atmosphere as a result of the hydrogen production process. It is likely to be domestic initially, with the ability to meet requirements of a global scheme in the future.   

Reliable emissions tracing is vital to ensure the Australian Government can track progress towards its 2015 Paris Agreement commitments, to limit global temperature increases by reducing national greenhouse gas emissions.

This tracing is also important so major importers of hydrogen can track progress toward their emissions reduction targets. 

General Manager for Hydrogen Engineering Australian, Hirofumi Kawazoe, explained how this is relevant to the potential commercial HESC Project.

“If the HESC Project proceeds to commercialisation, CCS technology will be used to make the hydrogen production process virtually CO2 emission-free,” said Mr Kawazoe.

“A Certificate of Origin would take this into account as it measures the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.”

A commercial-scale HESC Project would in fact play a role in reducing CO2 emissions, and in turn contribute to the Australian Government’s progress towards Paris commitments.

“A commercial-scale HESC Project would produce up to 225,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year and if this was used for power generation it could reduce global CO2 emissions by some three million tonnes per year[i] – the equivalent of removing 600,000 cars off the road.”

The certification of hydrogen was a recommendation of the National Hydrogen Strategy prepared by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel. Another reason a scheme is important is that it will avoid misunderstanding and provide consumers with transparency around the environmental impacts of the hydrogen, providing flexibility of being technology neutral.

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources states that ‘a hydrogen certification scheme is a standardised process of tracing and certifying where and how hydrogen is made, and the associated environmental impacts (for example, greenhouse gas emissions).’

HESC Project partners are part of a consultative group helping the department understand the most important high-level aspects of an international and/or domestic hydrogen certification scheme.

The HESC Project Partners identify three important features of hydrogen certification:

  1. A scheme should be technology neutral and inclusive, consider carbon-reduction activities and avoid resorting to terminology centred around different colours of hydrogen.
  2. A certification system, especially methodology for estimation of greenhouse gas emissions, should be transparent in approach and assumptions to build confidence.
  3. An international body would be best placed to promote a guarantee of origin scheme on a global scale.

Australia can play a leading role in shaping an international guarantee of origin scheme built for the global hydrogen market. HESC Project Partners welcome the opportunity to continue contributing to this consultative process.

More detail on the HESC Project Partner’s response to the hydrogen certification survey, which closed 22 June 2020, is available to read here.

[i] as referred to by the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) in 2015.

Commissioning is underway at all project sites

The completed Latrobe Valley site

Each element in the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Pilot supply chain is nearing operations stage. Site teams in Japan and Australia are working to finalise construction and carry out the all-important commissioning work, to ensure all systems and components are in perfect working order.

At the Latrobe Valley gasification and gas refining facility, construction concluded in early October and commissioning is well underway. This involves a range of activities, including filling and testing lines and tanks and confirming the electronics and control systems.

According to Non-Executive Director of J-POWER LV, Jeremy Stone, “as these important tests are almost complete, we expect the production of hydrogen gas from coal in the last quarter of 2020.”  

150 kilometres away in Hastings, the on-site construction office has been removed and plant assessments are also in progress.

A Helium Buffer Tank which will be used for liquefaction processing in Hastings

The main components of the hydrogen liquefier are being tested; the cold box with heat exchangers, the helium compressor, and the helium expansion turbine.

General Manager for Hydrogen Engineering Australia, Hirofumi Kawazoe explained the operation of these components.

“Pressurised hydrogen gas will be fed into the vacuum insulated cold box and pre-cooled. The gas is then heat-exchanged with liquefied helium, which is produced from a helium refrigeration cycle, turned into liquid and transferred to a storage container,” Mr Kawazoe said.

Thousands of kilometres away from both these sites, the Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), recently toured the HESC Pilot facilities in Kobe, Liquefied Hydrogen Storage and Unloading Terminal and the SUISO FRONTIER.

Hiroshi Kajiyama went onboard the SUISO FRONTIER, which will carry liquid hydrogen between Japan and Australia. Following the recent installation of the liquefied hydrogen storage tank, that will transfer liquefied hydrogen at -253 degrees Celsius, verification tests are underway.

The vessel will soon undergo assessment while doing domestic sea trials before setting off in 2021 to sail to Hastings.

Japanese hydrogen liquefaction expert comes to Hastings

Japanese hydrogen liquefaction expert comes to Hastings

Mr Hiroi at the HESC Project site in Hastings in September 2020

Shinichi Hiroi has only recently arrived in Australia but is looking forward to applying his technical expertise to the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project and is already enjoying life in Australia.

Mr Hiroi is Deputy Section Manager for the Technical and Engineering team with Iwatani Corporation, one of the project partners responsible for the Hydrogen Liquefaction and Loading Terminal in Hastings.

He has undertaken training at one of the three commercial liquefied hydrogen plants that Iwatani operates in Japan – bringing superlative expertise and experience to support the safety of operations in Hastings.

This deep understanding of the plant operations and equipment will be imparted to local HESC Project staff already working in Hastings.

The commencement of the HESC Pilot is significant for Mr Hiroi as he joined Iwatani Corporation to build a career centred around the fuel of the future, hydrogen. Iwatani has regarded hydrogen as the ultimate clean source of energy since 1941 and is a global leader in pursuing a hydrogen enabled future. 

“HESC is a world first project and once the pilot project is successful, I hope people will understand the possibilities of hydrogen. The success will trigger expansion for hydrogen projects worldwide and they will see how liquid hydrogen can be transported by ship all over the world,” Mr Hiroi said.

“Hydrogen is a large piece of a sustainable society, as it has the potential to be used as a sustainable energy,” he says.

Mr Hiroi is the only Iwatani staff member living in Victoria but is enjoying his time and can’t help but feel a twist of fate brought him here.

“When I was a university student 15 years ago in Japan, I had a part-time job at an Outback Steak House, which I travelled to on a bicycle designed and made by Kawasaki (another HESC Project Partner), so it is very funny to be in this situation now”.

“The country is so beautiful and big, and I can’t help loving all of it. Particularly Hastings. I saw a wild Koala in Hastings and thought to myself ‘I’m finally in Australia’.”

Mr Hiroi will live in Melbourne for the duration of the HESC pilot project, making necessary visits and safety inspections to Hastings.

Technology Investment Roadmap plots a course

HESC Project Partners welcome the Federal Government’s first Low Emissions Technology Statement released on the 22nd of September, and its endorsement of clean hydrogen as the fuel of the future.

Image credit: Industry.gov.au

As part of the Australian Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap, there is a commitment to bring down emissions while strengthening the economy by investing in technology development, including clean hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) as some of the best means to reduce emissions while benefitting the economy and creating jobs. The Project Partners also support enabling key agencies such as ARENA and the CEFC to contribute to these important technology ambitions.

Addressing the National Press Club, the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor said that the Federal Government’s plan has three focuses – lower emissions, lower costs and more jobs. He touted hydrogen and CCS as priority technologies, critical for public investment under a AUD $1.9 billion package to achieve these objectives. The HESC Project Partners particularly welcome the Minister’s emphasis on international cooperation for hydrogen market development and his praise of our project as a pioneer in hydrogen between Australia and Japan.

The world-first HESC Project, supported by the Japanese, Federal and Victorian Government’s, aims to produce clean hydrogen using Latrobe Valley coal. In the commercial phase of the project it will utilise a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) solution, provided by the joint Federal and Victorian Governments’  CarbonNet Project. This is a viable and efficient low-carbon method of producing hydrogen at scale and will be a key contributor to an energy transition in Australia and the world.

The Roadmap, prepared with advice from a panel of industry leaders, investors and researchers chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, is a path forward for creating a global hydrogen market with Australia at his centre as a producing powerhouse.

The HESC Project places Latrobe Valley and Victoria at the forefront of the national energy transition to lower emissions via the fuel of the future, clean hydrogen, and gears the region to become a global hydrogen export hub, in line with the Federal Government’s ambitions.

The HESC pilot operations begin in the last quarter of 2020, working towards creating a commercially viable hydrogen energy supply chain in line with the government objectives of hydrogen production and informed by technical feasibility, social licence to operate, market demand and other macroeconomic factors. The HESC Project has potential to be the cornerstone of Australia’s hydrogen future and a key contributor to global greenhouse gas

CarbonNet core gets hi-tech treatment

CarbonNet core in the CT scanner

The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project, alongside the CarbonNet Project, has the potential to assist in Victoria’s energy transition and the decarbonisation of the state’s industry and manufacturing base.

Currently, the CarbonNet Project is investigating the potential for establishing a world-class, large-scale, multi-user carbon capture and storage (CCS) network.

CarbonNet’s proposed carbon dioxide storage site in the offshore Gippsland Basin (in Bass Strait) is a very large dome-shaped geological structure, with many rock layers.

The porous layers of sandstone can act like a sponge to store the CO2, while layers of shale and coal form the barriers which will trap the CO2 – the same way oil and gas has been trapped in Bass Strait naturally for millions of years.

The site – Pelican – is large enough to store at least five million tonnes of CO2 per year for 25 years. That’s the equivalent of CO2 emissions from around one million cars every year.

Recently, rock from Pelican has been analysed in a world-class laboratory to ascertain if it has the storage capacity required. Early data indicates that reservoir quality is better than predicted.

To analyse the rock, a one-metre segment of core drilled from deep under the Pelican site is being analysed by a Computed Tomography (CT) scanner in Perth. The CT scanner uses x-rays to build up a three-dimensional image inside the core sample to assess the properties of the rock ahead of further testing.  It uses the same techniques as a medical CT scanner.

CT scanning is a non-destructive method and is typically run at the start of a core analysis project.  Scanning identifies geological features, sedimentary bedding and composition changes that are taken into consideration when designing the detailed core analysis project.

Rock core analyses from the Pelican site are expected to be complete in early 2021.

This article originally appeared on CarbonNet and has been repurposed with permission.

Construction presses on despite COVID-19 challenges

Construction of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project’s Hastings site, where hydrogen will be liquefied, stored, and loaded onto a ship for export, has been completed. At the Latrobe Valley coal gasification and refining facility, the end of construction is imminent and commissioning is underway.

At both sites, 208 local engineers, tradespeople and apprentices are directly involved in construction.

In Latrobe Valley, where coal gasification and gas refining will take place, logistics delays caused by COVID-19 have been managed to minimise impacts on the building timeline.

“Despite the challenges, construction and commissioning is scheduled to be completed by the end of September”, said Non-Executive Director of J-POWER LV, Jeremy Stone.

The HESC Project site in Latrobe Valley

Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. (J-POWER) is designing, building and operating the Latrobe Valley facility.

Complex building and engineering works have been occurring not just in the Latrobe Valley but in Hastings too, where the construction of Australia’s first hydrogen liquefaction facility is now complete. With a footprint equivalent to one-quarter of an Australian Rules Football (AFL) field, the small site houses critical pieces of infrastructure for the HESC Project – the liquefier and liquefied hydrogen tank.

“These are significant milestones for HESC Project, and also for Australia in terms of becoming a leading country for hydrogen export in the future” said General Manager for Hydrogen Engineering Australia, Hirofumi Kawazoe.

HESC Project partner Kawasaki Heavy Industries has significant experience in the storage and transport of liquefied hydrogen. It built the storage tanks used to hold hydrogen rocket fuel at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Tanegashima Space Centre. This technology has been in use for more than 25 years.

In Japan, the HESC Project has achieved another major achievement recently with the completion of construction of its Kobe liquefied hydrogen storage and unloading terminal.

The terminal is the final component of the Project’s supply chain. The world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier, SUISO FRONTIER, will transport its cargo from the Port of Hastings, to the Kobe terminal.

The HESC Project site in Hastings

With the demonstration of the HESC Project about to commence, it was recognised last month as a contributor to Australia and Japan’s COVID-19 recovery.

In a statement proceeding a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP on 9 July, 2020, the two world leaders acknowledged ongoing collaboration between the two nations on the world first HESC Project.

In a joint media release, it was stated: “The leaders highlighted their determination to support a robust economic recovery and rebuild more sustainable, inclusive and resilient economies. The leaders acknowledged energy transitions, including through the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Pilot project in Victoria, and implementation of the Memorandum of Cooperation on Carbon Recycling signed by ministers in 2019, will be part of the recovery strategy.”

A close look at the world`s first liquid hydrogen carrier

SUISO FRONTIER at Kobe terminal in Japan

Mass quantities of liquefied hydrogen have not been shipped across open waters before, but the newly built SUISO FRONTIER overcomes the challenges of transportation. The ship will play a key role in realising the HESC Project’s world-first demonstration of a hydrogen supply chain between Australia and Japan.

When hydrogen gas is liquefied, it becomes denser to the point of 1/800 of its original gas-state volume.

This highlight the benefits and challenges of transporting liquid hydrogen.

Over longer distances it is usually more cost-effective to transport hydrogen in liquid form, since a liquid hydrogen tank can hold substantially more hydrogen than a pressurised gas tank. However, preventing heat from turning the liquid hydrogen back into a gas – known as ‘boil off’ – presents unique challenges.

During the HESC Project, the 116-metre-long SUISO FRONTIER will make one trip between Australia and Japan every few months. On board will be a crew of no more than 25 people.

To prevent boil off during its journey, HESC project partner and shipbuilder Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI), developed specialised insulation technology.

The 1,250m3 storage tank is a world-leading and game-changing technological development likely to boost the global hydrogen economy.

It features a cryogenic storage element, a double-shell structure with vacuum insulation and is supported by high strength glass-fibre-reinforced plastic. It contains the liquefied hydrogen and keeps it at -253 degrees Celsius.

Much of the ship’s features are a progression of technology originally developed in 1981, when KHI became the first Asian company to manufacture a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier.

Thirty years later, SUISO FRONTIER will play a pivotal role in realising the potential for the HESC Project to kick-start a new, global clean energy export industry with huge local economic benefits for both Australia and Japan.   

“Everyone on this project is working hard for the future of our planet.”

Ross Renna (left) and Hirofumi Kawazoe (right) at the HESC Project site in Hastings

Hirofumi Kawazoe is the General Manager for Hydrogen Engineering Australia (HEA) and the local representative for Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI). Between visits to the Port of Hastings, he shares his views on living in Australia and the exciting future of hydrogen.

Mr Kawazoe moved from Japan to Melbourne in 2018, overseeing and managing the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project. While most recently working from home under COVID-19 guidelines, a highlight of his role is making day trips to the Hydrogen Liquefaction and Loading Terminal being constructed at Hastings.

The plant will be the first hydrogen liquefaction facility in Australia and with construction almost complete, Mr Kawazoe is focused on having the site ready for commissioning.

“The days I visit the site are quite busy, but I really enjoy having discussions with other project members and seeing the progress,” Mr Kawazoe said.

Broadly speaking, playing a role in a project supported by the Japanese and Australian Governments is a huge honour for the computer science and programming expert with 10 years’ experience working in the field.

“I am very honoured to be involved and working on the front line of HESC. I believe it will be an important step for the future of energy, and everyone on this project is working hard for the future of our planet,” Mr Kawazoe said.

“Hydrogen will be a basic energy source in the future, and this is obvious from the global boost in interest in hydrogen as fuel that can be produced from various sources.”

Living in Melbourne for the past two years, Mr Kawazoe enjoys running and playing tennis in his spare time and he can easily understand why the city is one of the world’s most liveable.

“People are very kind and cooperative in Australia. I sometimes feel everyone is too relaxed.  However, I am probably seen as ‘too relaxed’ by my colleagues in Japan recently,” Mr Kawazoe joked.

He will stay in Australia until the end of the HESC pilot project in 2021 and has not ruled out the possibility of living in the country long term.