Northern Territory selected for renewable “Hydrogen Trail”
The Hydrogen Trail, a joint venture of Australian companies Axcentium and Ahurei has proposed its own proprietary technology AQUA AEREM which uses solar power to produce water from the air and create hydrogen from that water to generate reliable on-demand electricity.
The Northern Territory government will trial off-grid green hydrogen technology that uses water extracted from the desert air, as part of its renewable hydrogen strategy.
The pilot plant provides an innovative approach to secure a sustainable water supply, which is an essential input in the development of renewable hydrogen and will be particularly valuable in projects arid areas.
This major step in the development of an off grid renewable hydrogen project trial is set to begin in Tennant Creek. Its high solar irradiance makes it an attractive location for the production of renewable hydrogen using solar generation.
This joint venture has proposed a 15MW electrolyser which would produce 912 tonnes per annum of green hydrogen for the community of Tennant Creek. It would provide around 50 percent of the energy for the town’s 3,000 people.
The raw material for green hydrogen is water, which is split into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis powered by renewable energy. For regions with plenty of sunshine but limited water, this poses both an opportunity and a conundrum.
The Northern Territory government will attempt to overcome this by using the Aqua Aerem technology, which draws water directly out of the atmosphere.
The idea is that hydrogen produced there can eventually be used to power the Tennant Creek Power Station, a 20MW generator that currently runs on gas with diesel back-up.
This proposal has been submitted to the Northern Territory Government and is currently under evaluation. It will support the Northern Territory Government in achieving its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
Zero Mass Water’s Source hydro panel extracts drinking water from air and is used in a number of remote communities in Australia for supplying safe drinking water.
The project would involve concentrator photovoltaic (CPV), which will offer stable power generation throughout the daytime for driving water electrolysis in a cost-effective manner.
To produce 1 kg of hydrogen, nine times the amount of water is necessary. For 912,000 kilograms of hydrogen will need 8,208,000 litres of water a year. It’s a lot of water. And Tennant Creek isn’t particularly humid at any time of the year. That’s where aqua aerem technology comes to help.
55 kWh of electrical energy is required to create 1kg of hydrogen at an assumed rate of efficiency of > 60 percent. Based on that, 912,000 kg of hydrogen will need 50.16 gigawatt hours, annually. It’s a lot of electricity, but Tennant Creek has plenty of sunshine to provide it.
It would be much cheaper, easier and more efficient to combine solar + battery storage.
A trial will be commenced in March that will run over 12 weeks collecting local production data for further optimisation of the water capture process. There is a lot of information about this technology that needs clarification including its costs, whether it will use electricity generated from Tennant Creek Power Station to burn the hydrogen, or whether it would buy fresh water. We will get a better understanding of this project only after its trial period.
The project depends on Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on funding for its renewable hydrogen project. The strategy articulates the potential hydrogen opportunities and the Territory’s competitive advantages. The Territory will leverage these to be an Australian center for hydrogen technology research, production and use.
The renewable Hydrogen Trail will support the Territory Government’s vision to achieve zero net emissions by 2050 and facilitate efforts to attract renewable hydrogen investment as part of the Territory’s transition to renewables.