The Connecting the Power and Gas Grids project aimed to design and build an electrolyser pilot plant and test it in partnership with Australian Gas Networks (AGN) as a demonstration of ‘power to gas’ injection of hydrogen into the natural gas grid.
How the project works
The Connecting the Power and Gas Grids project by AquaHydrex Pty Ltd consists of a pilot plant planned to use electricity from the grid to produce hydrogen from water, which would then be injected into the natural gas network. The project plan comprised of two elements listed below:
- Scale up and refinement of the AquaHydrex electrolyser manufacturing process; and
- Deployment of a pilot scale electrolyser (pilot plant) of at least 50kW in South Australia to inject small quantities of hydrogen into the AGN gas network.
Area of innovation
‘Renewable hydrogen’ can be produced or isolated in a number of ways with varying cost and technical maturity. Producing renewable hydrogen through electrolysis is technically viable and commercially mature but currently cost prohibitive and unable to compete in mainstream hydrogen markets due to the amount and cost of power required. The key advantages of AquaHydrex’s technology included its use of low cost materials and its suitability for modularisation and mass manufacture.
If AquaHydrex was able to achieve its goals in relation to cost reduction and scale-up, it may be a globally disruptive technology that could reduce the cost of the renewable hydrogen and demonstrate that hydrogen could be competitive long-term storage option in a Power-to-Gas application using otherwise curtailed (or ‘spilled’) renewable energy.
The Connecting the Power and Gas Grids project started in July 2017 but was unable to proceed and ended in April 2018 without any ARENA funds spent. The market for hydrogen production through electrolysis remains nascent. Decarbonisation applications such as Power-to-Gas and long-duration renewable storage, require significant global policy support to expand beyond the pilot stage.