Australia’s renewable hydrogen sector has taken another significant step forward after Spanish-based Solarig entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with leading energy infrastructure company Jemena. Under the MOU the parties will collaborate to assess the feasibility and facilitate the supply of zero-carbon renewable hydrogen to gas users connected to Jemena’s network in New South Wales.

The MOU between Solarig and Jemena focuses first on the development of hydrogen production and blending facilities in regional New South Wales which will initially inject up to 35TJ of renewable hydrogen per year into Jemena’s New South Wales gas distribution network. If successful, both parties will work to further develop additional renewable hydrogen initiatives helping to build Australia’s renewable hydrogen market, and positioning New South Wales as a prominent national and international hub.

As part of the MOU, Jemena will undertake feasibility assessments for renewable hydrogen to be blended into the network so it can be used by homes, businesses, and industrial customers downstream of the injection site.

Solarig’s Australian Country Manager, Andrew Want, said Australia’s transition to low-carbon energy, transport and industry is accelerating at pace and solutions to decarbonise gas and liquid fuels were an urgent priority.

The Western Sydney Green Hydrogen Hub

“Solarig in Australia is leading the development of green hydrogen infrastructure to support industries like transport, agriculture and mining in their decarbonisation efforts,” said Mr Want.

“Our operations in Australia are focused on building infrastructure across regional Australia, where the renewable energy resources are and our major industries are – such as mining, agriculture and logistics – providing long-term economic development and sustainable employment opportunities to communities in regional areas, in this case in New South Wales.”

Jemena’s Managing Director, David Gillespie said Jemena is always looking for opportunities to support a renewable gas market with a view to providing a long-term decarbonisation pathway for gas, while also contributing to broader economy-wide decarbonisation efforts.

“Australia is right in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to decarbonise our energy sector. But we know there is not one silver bullet that is going to help us reach our emission reduction targets,” said Mr Gillespie.

“We are going to need a mix of renewable energy fuels to ensure Australia can reach net zero, while still delivering safe and reliable energy. Forming these types of relationships is essential to developing a robust renewable gas sector.”

Mr Want said the hydrogen produced will be generated using 100 per cent renewable electricity from Solarig developed generation projects or through the purchase of renewable energy.

Solarig develops, finances, builds and operates infrastructure for the energy transition. It currently manages more than 10 GW of photovoltaic assets and has a portfolio of more than 20GW of power projects in 12 countries, with a strong presence in Europe, Central and South America, Japan, and Australia.

The Solarig project in regional New South Wales is one of the first commercial renewable hydrogen facilities proposed for connection to the Jemena network and, subject to meeting the pre-feasibility requirements, will be one of the first commercial renewable hydrogen blending projects in Australia.

The MOU between Jemena and Solarig comes off the back of the recent announcement of more renewable gas facilities, for biomethane production, being developed in regional New South Wales after Jemena and renewable gas producer Optimal Energy signed a three year MOU.

Through that arrangement, Optimal Renewable Gas (ORG) will be identifying suitable sites in regional New South Wales in proximity to agricultural and other waste sources (which are a key feedstock for the production of biomethane) that could produce up to 1.5PJ of biomethane, in preparation for building the facilities. Additionally, Jemena will undertake feasibility and preparatory work so biomethane can be injected into the nearby New South Wales gas distribution network.

Biomethane is a renewable gas created by processing biogas, which is generated from decomposing organic waste.  It is completely interchangeable with natural gas and is, therefore, compatible with all existing gas network infrastructure, gas appliances used in homes and businesses today, and in industrial manufacturing processes.

Research commissioned by Jemena has identified potential sources of biomethane – agricultural waste, waste water and landfills – in the vicinity of its New South Wales network that could produce up to 30PJ of biomethane annually. To put this in context, Jemena’s 386 industrial costumers used around 49.6PJ of gas last year.

With the new hydrogen collaboration and existing biomethane projects the potential for a renewable gas industry to develop, bring circular economy benefits and job opportunities to regional areas appears to be growing.

Image: Pipelines at the Western Sydney Green Hydrogen Hub. Image credit: Jemena. 

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