Hydrogen potential is ‘huge’

TEST DRIVE: Ross Kassebaum, Steve Sawyer, Jack Ritchie, Mario Filipovic (Toyota), Scott Nargar (Hyundai), Andrea Broadfoot and Graham Davies (Resonant Solutions) with the hydrogen cars the group saw in Adelaide last year.
TEST DRIVE: Ross Kassebaum, Steve Sawyer, Jack Ritchie, Mario Filipovic (Toyota), Scott Nargar (Hyundai), Andrea Broadfoot and Graham Davies (Resonant Solutions) with the hydrogen cars the group saw in Adelaide last year.

THE $117-million hydrogen plant to be built near Port Lincoln will open the door for further investment in hydrogen technology on the Eyre Peninsula.

Energy Security for South Australia Working Party member and retired electrical engineer Steve Sawyer said this week’s announcement was the first step toward a “very huge industry”.

He said the 15-megawatt hydrogen facility represented about 0.1 per cent of the region’s potential. 

“There is easily 8000 megawatts of generation on the Eyre Peninsula, the potential is huge,” Mr Sawyer said. 

He said the investment by Hydrogen Utility would demonstrate what was possible with proven hydrogen technology but was on too small a scale to reduce power prices or provide reliable power supply. 

Mr Sawyer said this week’s announcement would open the door to larger scale investment on the Eyre Peninsula.

“We need to scale it up and that’s where the transmission upgrade links in,” he said.

“That’s why we’re tentatively saying ElectraNet needs to put a hold on making a decision about its transmission upgrade for the Eyre Peninsula.”

He said the current system was adequate for the 15MW proposal but to expand, a transmission line upgrade was needed.

Working party facilitator Ross Kassebaum said the worst thing that could happen now, would be for ElectraNet to go ahead with its option 4B, which included the construction of a new double-circuit 275 kV line between Cultana and Yadnarie, and a new 132 kV double-circuit line between Yadnarie and Port Lincoln.

He said that would stifle the potential for the Eyre Peninsula to become a renewable energy zone and would be “a waste of $300 million”.

Mr Kassebaum said the Eyre Peninsula could become a renewable energy zone and a major producer and exporter of hydrogen, with the right transmission line upgrade, like the working party’s 500kV triangulated transmission plan.

“Farmers up the West Coast of Eyre Peninsula would be able to lease their land for wind turbines and solar farms,” he said.

Mr Kassebaum said that had the potential to bring farmers about $16 million additional income a year.

Mr Sawyer said while the working party’s proposal would add about $12 a year to all South Australian residents’ power bills, it would decrease the wholesale price of electricity dramatically.

“We welcome what’s been announced, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.