Australia’s first remote hydrogen microgrid has been launched in the regional Western Australian town of Denham in a trial promising to power 100 local households once fully operational in 2023.

The $9.3 million Denham Hydrogen Demonstration Plant is expected to offset 140,000 litres of diesel annually and provide a decarbonisation pathway for future energy systems. It is being delivered by Horizon Power and Hybrid Systems Australia.

The production of first hydrogen is a significant milestone for the project, which is currently undergoing commissioning, and  has produced enough hydrogen to fill its 13,230 litre storage system.

The plant includes a 704kW solar farm, 348kW hydrogen electrolyser, and a 100kW fuel cell providing an innovative alternative to diesel generators.

Once fully operational in early 2023, the plant is expected to be able to power the average demands of 100 households or 20 per cent of Denham’s residents and businesses.

The demonstration plant was officially opened by State Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, alongside State Minister for the Hydrogen Industry, Alannah MacTiernan, on 11 November 2022.

“Congratulations to Horizon Power and Hybrid Systems Australia for successfully delivering the first remote microgrid in Australia to be powered by renewable hydrogen,” Mr Johnston said.

“The demonstration in Denham is extending knowledge of hydrogen technology and systems in practice and considers how this technology can be used in other remote power systems.”

The next stage of the project is to test the integration of the hydrogen plant with the solar farm, battery and the conventional diesel power station to make sure these parts operate together as expected.

With the remoteness of Horizon Power’s networks, the rising cost of diesel and the predicted falling costs of hydrogen equipment, there may be an opportunity beyond 2025 to leverage hydrogen to decarbonise a number of existing diesel microgrids, as existing Power Purchase Agreements expire.

Horizon Power Chief Executive Officer, Stephanie Unwin, said the nation-leading project would demonstrate the potential benefits offered by hydrogen power sources. 

“It is very exciting to be officially opening a project that is leading the country in the demonstration of hydrogen as a base load fuel source,” Ms Unwin said.

“Together, with the State and Federal Governments, we are working towards the transition to clean, green energy and providing valuable learnings which could support the commercialisation of renewable hydrogen power generation.

“I would also like to thank the people of Denham, in particular the Shire of Shark Bay, for supporting this work – it has definitely put the town on the map in terms of Western Australia’s decarbonisation journey to net zero by 2050.”

Feature Image: Construction of the Denham Hydrogen Demonstration Plant was completed by Hybrid Systems Australia. Photo: Hybrid Systems Australia.

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