Evoenergy and the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) have partnered to develop Australia’s first hydrogen test facility to test hydrogen in situations where we currently use the fossil fuel natural gas.

Evoenergy, who own and operate the ACT gas network, will test hydrogen on existing materials, equipment and work practices, potentially allowing it to be used in the existing gas distribution network in the future.

The facility will be launched in three phases over the next 12 months:

  • Phase 1: Testing existing Australian network components, construction and maintenance practices on 100 per cent hydrogen
  • Phase 2: Testing hydrogen as a broader energy storage source to support coupling the electricity network to the gas network
  • Phase 3: Appliance testing (e.g. testing hydrogen and mixed gases in existing appliances like hot water systems)

The use of hydrogen as a household energy resource aligns with the green energy target set by the ACT Government to reduce emissions to zero by 2045.

The need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions has seen hydrogen plans developed throughout the world. In Europe particularly, hydrogen use is growing as an energy source and as a transport fuel, with the world’s first hydrogen passenger train now operating in Germany.

Hydrogen in Australia could eventually be used for domestic cooking, heating and hot water, for powering passenger vehicles and even public transport.

Evoenergy Gas Networks Branch Manager, Will Yeap, said providing a safe and reliable supply was an Evoenergy priority for Canberrans.

“Evoenergy knows we have an important responsibility to look at renewable energy sources and stay ahead of the rapidly changing energy landscape,” Mr Yeap said.

“This first of its kind facility will allow us to gain a clear understanding of the impact of introducing hydrogen to existing infrastructure. We will be moving one step closer to realising the ability for a viable renewable gas source to be rolled out on a large scale.”

ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, said, “In response to climate change, we need to phase out the use of natural gas, which is a highly polluting fossil fuel.

“Hydrogen can be a renewable, zero-emissions gas source and we want to understand whether, and how, it can be viably used to decarbonise the gas network.

“The work by Evoenergy and CIT is important for determining if we need to make any modifications or replacements to allow the possible introduction of hydrogen into the natural gas distribution system.

Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said hydrogen offered the prospect of zero-emission energy supplies and energy storage capacity to back up renewable power, utilising existing gas networks.

“Hydrogen is carbon-free and can be produced from excess renewable energy, for example during sunny and windy days when generation is high and demand is low,” Mr Dillon said.

“This offers a stable, carbon-free energy resource that can be stored for use on demand.

“We know from our work with the CSIRO on the 2018 National Hydrogen Roadmap that hydrogen represents significant and exciting opportunities for Australia, well beyond its potential as an export fuel.”

In the upcoming March edition of Energy, Editor Laura Harvey will be speaking to Will Reap to learn more about the test facility, and the potential impacts on the industry. If you’re not already subscribed to the print magazine, click here to sign up and ensure you never miss an issue.

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