Australia’s Origin Energy is planning for two export oriented renewable hydrogen projects, which are at early stages of development and is looking for more opportunities in clean fuels with the world moving towards decarbonization.
“International demand for hydrogen could be very material in the long-term…Australia has been identified as having a competitive advantage, in part due to its high-capacity renewables,” Tracey Boyes, general manager of future growth at Origin Energy, said in an email to S&P Global Platts.
These projects are still in the early stages -– feasibility stage or pre-FEED (front-end engineering design), the company’s spokesperson added.
Origin’s Bell Bay project in southern state of Tasmania is aiming to produce at 420,000 mt/year renewable ammonia, while the Townsville project in Queensland state is projecting 800 mt/day of renewable liquid hydrogen from about 2030.
“Origin’s participation in this emerging industry is expected to be larger than just those current live export projects,” Boyes said. “We are still in the early stages for both our export projects, the detailed feasibility, planning and design work will determine the level of investment.”
Origin Energy is an integrated energy firm with retail and industrial customers and it exports LNG to Asia, its website shows. It produces power from coal, wind, pumped water storage, solar and cogeneration plants and has made large investments in renewable power.
Alongside its plan for renewable hydrogen, also called “green” hydrogen as it is powered by wind and solar energy, Origin is also working on export plans for “blue” hydrogen which is extracted from natural gas with the carbon emissions captured and stored as this is easier to produce with the existing infrastructure.
The conventional “blue” hydrogen would eventually be replaced by the renewable “green” hydrogen as per the plans.
The company is working with Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) as a partner. KHI developed the world’s first liquid hydrogen carrier in December 2019 which has been designed to transport liquefied hydrogen at 1/800th of its original gas-state volume, cooled to minus 253°C for transporting the material over long distances by sea.
Hydrogen for blending
Besides the two export-oriented renewable projects, Origin is watching the hydrogen space for more opportunities and has the domestic market too on its radar.
A green gas project in western Sydney in New South Wales (NSW) will also look at hydrogen as a transport fuel, as well as how hydrogen production can play a role in grid stability and demand response, Boyes added.
“The NSW green gas project is for domestic customers at the moment as it is focused on blending gas into the distribution network, however, the learnings will have much wider application for reticulated gas networks globally,” Boyes said.
Origin’s role in this project is to supply renewable power, with the ability to access data from the project for future learnings.
Origin has a net zero emissions target by 2050.
“We have committed to exiting coal-fired generation by 2032 or earlier and increasing renewables in our portfolio, as well as utilizing our strong gas position as a lower emissions firming fuel,” she said.
Australia has been one of the early movers into the nascent hydrogen sector with several hydrogen hubs and pilot projects being set up. Companies have made tie-ups with consuming nations such as Japan and Germany for research and development in clean fuels and to establish a production and supply chain.