Tasmania’s newest wind farms are investigating what role they would play if the state became a hydrogen energy powerhouse.
Proponents of hydrogen speak big about its potential as a major energy source that is green, adaptable and exportable.
But before anyone can use hydrogen to power cars or store energy, it must first be extracted from a compound such as water through a process known as electrolysis.
IN OTHER NEWS:
That requires electricity, which is why Robbins Island wind farm developer UPC Renewables wants to see “how we could be involved” in the hydrogen energy production chain.
UPC chief operating officer David Pollington believed renewable energy companies could work with the hydrogen industry because there was “little value in producing hydrogen by burning brown coal”.
“There’s lots of industries where parties come together to achieve an end goal,” he said.
“Tasmania has great renewable resources, it’s got potential water resources and it’s got some of the infrastructure needed.”
Mr Pollington said UPC was “informing ourselves” about opportunities in hydrogen and had taken part in the government’s expressions of interest process to develop the industry.
“Hydrogen has real potential to be part of our energy mix for the future and (the government) spending time and effort now on developing systems and industry for that, supported by developing renewables to produce hydrogen, is essential,” he said.
THE WESTERN WINDS
Project director Lyndon Frearson said “we want to know about anything that provides greater certainty around energy prices in the future”.
“And anything that increases demand is a good thing if you’re selling energy into the system,” Mr Frearson said.
Whether Granville Harbour Wind Farm would be directly involved in supplying power to a hydrogen plant is uncertain, given it already has a long-term deal with Hydro Tasmania.
That deal expires well before the end of the wind farm’s life and if Hydro Tasmania does not renew the deal, Granville Harbour could decide to pursue opportunities in the hydrogen production chain.
But Mr Frearson said ultimately the investment in developing a Tasmanian hydrogen industry “doesn’t change anything for us in the short term”.
“In the end for Granville we are focused on how we generate energy and how we sell that energy on the Tasmanian energy market and then from there into the NEM (National Energy Market),” he said.
The government has earmarked Burnie and Bell Bay as potential hydrogen hubs and hopes the state will be ready to be a commercial exporter by 2030.
But the West Coast also wants a shot, given its closer proximity to a swathe of untapped wind power resources and abundant water sources.
West Coast Council general manager David Midson said the municipality was “ideally placed to be a centre of hydrogen production”.
“We have an amazing source of renewable energy in wind and also potentially in the future in wave energy,” he said.
“For the West Coast there is a great opportunity for renewable energy that is made here to be used to produce hydrogen in the region and have that hydrogen shipped out.”