Kalbarri traditionally has been known as a place of great beauty—and not so great opportunity.
Yet now the city is the proposed location for a huge 5,000-megawatt renewable hydrogen export business. Although ground won’t be broken for a decade, the project will render the city a hotspot for renewable energy.
The concept surrounding the project involves the low-cost production of green, renewable hydrogen, said project promoter Terry Kallis.
The technology needed to generate “green” hydrogen from water originated in the 1970s. The production of hydrogen depended on fossil fuels to generate “brown” or “blue” hydrogen by streaming an electric current through water with the use of electrolyser – a device that divides water into oxygen and hydrogen.
Due to the current state of renewable energy, coal or natural gas are not required to generate the electric current. The procedure can be powered by wind and solar – thus facilitating the production of green hydrogen.
Now annually, the globe consumes 70m tonnes of hydrogen to generate glass, steel and fertiliser. That figure is anticipated to increase to 90m tonnes by 2050.
The Kalbarri proposal will involve the construction of a combination wind and solar plant to facilitate the commercial production of hydrogen from seawater. The gas will be exported to countries such as Korea, Japan and Singapore that cannot generate it independently.
Kallis and business partner, Peter Sgardelis share a history in large-scale renewables. Kallis was instrumental in the building of the inaugural commercial windfarm in South Australia and Sgardelis toiled on the Star of the South offshore windfarm in Victoria.
German multinational engineering firm Siemens has agreed to construct electrolysers for the project. They cite the reduced cost of green hydrogen production and the invention of the electrolyser among the chief impetus for the project, which could introduce about 2,500 jobs at the peak of the building phase and 700 permanent positions to operate it.
The area surrounding Kalbarri, the traditional homeland of the Nanda people, with whom they are negotiating a land use agreement, provides wind, sun exposure, and proximity to the sea and the Dampier-to-Bunbury pipeline, Australia’s longest gas pipeline.
The initial phases will involve the blending of hydrogen into the liquid natural gas supply before exportation occurs.
Possible project challenges include safe transport and the size and efficiency of electrolysers.
Once these challenges are overcome, hydrogen could become a precious commodity, much like oil—with Australia taking the lead for a whole new and very exciting green industry.
Source: The Guardian