Horizon Power Prepares to Build Australia’s First Renewable Hydrogen Microgrid

Nov. 30, 2020
Horizon Power plans to demonstrate the ability of a hydrogen to serve as a dispatchable power source in a remote microgrid.

Horizon Power plans to build Australia’s first renewable hydrogen microgrid, a move that is part of the country’s effort to foster the technology.

The demonstration project will test the ability of hydrogen to serve as a dispatchable power source in remote microgrids, the utility said Nov. 27.

“This plant will demonstrate how hydrogen can reliably produce dispatchable power for our towns currently dependent on diesel fuel power systems and allow us to transition our network away from higher emission generating sources and meet our target of no new diesel generation systems from 2025,” Stephanie Unwin, Horizon Power CEO, said.

The hydrogen microgrid in the town of Denham will include a 700-kW solar farm, a 350-kW electrolyser, hydrogen compression and storage and a 100-kW fuel cell.

The electrolyser, using solar power, will produce water and hydrogen, which can be stored for later use in a fuel cell to deliver electricity. The plant will connect into the Denham hybrid power system. About 750 people live in Denham, a coastal town in Western Australia. 

Horizon Power expects the plant will produce 526 MWh a year, roughly the amount needed for 100 homes.

The utility, which serves Western Australia, plans to start building the facility in August and bring it online by the end of the year.

Horizon Power operates 34 microgrids to help it supply 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses in towns and remote communities.

Australia aims to grow hydrogen sector

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) awarded the project $1.9 million. The Western Australian Government, which owns the utility, is providing $4.2 million for the project.

The microgrid could be a model for other Australian states and territories including Queensland and the Northern Territory, according to ARENA.

“Remote and off-grid communities like Denham suffer from high energy costs due to costly diesel-based energy generation systems,” Darren Miller, ARENA CEO, said. “The potential for these communities to generate, store and use their own renewable energy could simultaneously reduce costs and reduce emissions without sacrificing the reliability of energy supply.”

ARENA has provided $52 million to support renewable hydrogen, in line with the country’s National Hydrogen Strategy. Australia aims to build up its hydrogen energy sector, with an eye to becoming an exporter of the technology, according to the strategy, released last year. 

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About the Author

Ethan Howland

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