Region to help unlock hydrogen potential

After hearing so many announcements about renewable energy projects in the upper Spencer Gulf region recently, it was a bit of a surprise to find out the green hydrogen facility announced by the state government on Monday would be built near Port Lincoln.

The 15-megawatt hydrogen electrolyser power plant, that will form part of the $117.5-million project, has been described as a “globally significant” demonstrator project and while the Australian industry is in its infancy, those involved in the project believe the hydrogen industry could eventually be worth more than the nation’s gas exports.

Surely that would mean some serious spin-offs for the region.

The announcement was only made on Monday afternoon, just before deadline for Tuesday’s print edition, so there will be more detail to come about what this means for Eyre Peninsula specifically, although the region’s residents can only hope having a 10MW hydrogen-fired gas turbine and the 5MW hydrogen fuel cell on hand will help secure local power supplies.

At the very least it will mean a few more jobs for the region with 30 construction and 30 ongoing jobs promised.

Energy Security SA working party member Ross Kassebaum flagged Eyre Peninsula’s potential as a hydrogen production hub for Australia in the Port Lincoln Times last July after attending a conference on the topic and it seems he was on the right track.

He felt the Eyre Peninsula had the right advantages to become a major producer and exporter of hydrogen if a decent – 500 kilovolt dual-circuit – grid was put in place.

Power transmission company ElectraNet is a supporter of this project, which suggests the required upgrades to the region’s transmission network have not only been considered but are likely to finally happen.

If the network is upgraded and even if a local hydrogen industry fails to reach the promoted potential, the worst we would be left with would be a higher capacity line to get power into and out of Eyre Peninsula, which is a lot better than we have at the moment.

The best case scenario would bring a lot more benefits to the region however.

Not least of which would be becoming known as a national hub for the hydrogen industry and getting a bit further along the road to becoming the renewable energy centre so many people have seen the potential for over many years.