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ARENA awards A$22.1M to 16 projects to accelerate exporting renewable hydrogen

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) awarded A$22.1 million (US$16 million) in funding to 16 research projects to propel innovation in exporting renewable hydrogen.

The funding has been offered to research teams from nine Australian universities and research organisations including the Australian National University, Macquarie University, Monash University, Queensland University of Technology, RMIT University, The University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, The University of Western Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

In December 2017, ARENA announced the funding round into hydrogen R&D. It is the first time ARENA had sought to fund research into the hydrogen energy supply chain.

The early stage research projects cover a diverse range of renewable solutions, with at least one project from each point in the supply chain – production, hydrogen carrier and end use. The projects include the development of a wide range of hydrogen-related technologies including concentrating solar thermal, electrolysis, biotechnology, carrier synthesis, thermochemical processes, fuel cell development and energy generation.

Hydrogen—or hydrogen carriers such as ammonia (earlier post)are potentially ways for Australia to export renewable energy. Electrical energy can readily be converted into hydrogen via electrolysis. Renewable or green hydrogen involves producing hydrogen from renewable sources for example via electrolyzers powered by solar and wind.

Hydrogen can potentially be used as a way for Australia to export renewable energy to other countries, particularly in Asia with demand expected to increase.

Earlier this month, ARENA also released a report that identified opportunities for Australia to export hydrogen as global demand for hydrogen increases in the next decade.

The report, prepared by ACIL Allen Consulting for ARENA, found there could be a significant increase in demand globally for hydrogen exports as other countries—such as Japan and the Republic of Korea—looked to transition to renewable energy. With the right conditions, hydrogen exports could be worth $1.7 billion annually and could generate 2,800 jobs in Australia by 2030.

ARENA is also part of the Hydrogen Strategy Group, led by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO, which prepared a briefing paper on hydrogen for the COAG Energy Council.

Funding recipients are:

  • Australian National University (ANU) Hydrogen Generation by Electro-Catalytic Systems – $615,682

  • ANU Direct Water Electrolysis – $1,235,407

  • ANU Solar Hydrogen Generation – $1,637,303

  • CSIRO Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen – $2,007,676

  • CSIRO Hydrogen to Ammonia – $1,175,000

  • CSIRO Methane Fuel Carrier – $1,085,553

  • CSIRO Liquid Fuel Carrier – $1,010,021

  • Macquarie University biological hydrogen production using genetically engineered microorganisms – $1,148,455

  • Monash University low-cost robust, high-activity water splitting electrodes – $1,054,209

  • Monash ammonia production from renewables at ambient temperature and pressure. Developing a process for reduction of nitrogen to ammonia – $915,848

  • Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Hydrogen Process – $3,350,000

  • RMIT University proton flow reactor system for electrical energy storage and bulk export of hydrogenated carbon-based material – $805,026

  • The University of Melbourne (UOM) enabling efficient, affordable and robust use of renewable hydrogen in transport and power generation – $2,594,747

  • University of New South Wales (UNSW) highly efficient and low cost photovoltaic-electrolysis (PVE) system to generate hydrogen by harvesting the full spectrum of sunlight – $1,319,105

  • UNSW Waste to Biomass to Renewable Hydrogen – $1,045,770

  • The University of Western Australia (UWA) Methanol from Syngas – $1,079,875



This article reckons that a truly gigantic installation of wind and solar in the Sahara could actually increase rainfall there:

I would not rush out to invest the family fortune in it, and anyway other areas of the world they looked at and other locations, presumably including Australia, showed far smaller effects.

But perhaps it indicates that very large installations for the purpose of producing hydrogen for export would at any rate do no harm to levels of precipitation.

For renewable hydrogen the tire is about to hit the track with the substantial installations now being built for Nikola and their FCEV truck venture:

We will know a lot more about the current economics and practicality by around 2022.

Interesting times

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