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CDU: NT receives key boost in integrating hydrogen into the electricity grid

25 Jan 2024 5:25 PM | Stephanie Berlin (Administrator)

Charles Darwin University (CDU) has produced hydrogen in the Northern Territory for the first time.

The University and the Northern Territory has today taken a step forward in the goal to establish a hydrogen generation industry. 

CDU will use the unique facility to develop skilled workers who are crucial for a successful renewable energy and green hydrogen industry in the Northern Territory. The facility will also serve as an innovation platform for industry through testing new hydrogen and other renewable technologies.

The hydrogen electrolyser and fuel cell system play an important role in a sustainable and efficient energy cycle for hydrogen production and utilisation.

The electrolyser, through electrolysis, splits water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. The generated hydrogen is stored for future use. The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electricity with no harmful emissions CDU’s interconnected system offers a green energy solution. 

Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Science and Technology and Director of the Energy Resources Institute, Professor Suresh Thennadil said this equipment upgrade is key in enabling exploration into hydrogen. 

“The installation of a containerised hydrogen electrolyser and fuel cell system, significantly enhances our ability to study hydrogen production and its feasibility as an energy source for fuelling the grid,” Professor Thennadil said. 

“This will also enable us to better understand the challenges and intricacies associated with incorporating hydrogen as an additional energy source as well as the durability of electrolysers and other components under local climatic conditions.

“This upgrade provides a unique and flexible platform to study renewable energy systems, particularly small regional and remote grids, which are common throughout the NT."

CDU collaborated with Pacific Energy, a specialist in designing and building power generating assets, to design, install and commission a containerised system that houses the electrolyser and fuel cell. 

The system has been installed at CDU’s Renewable Energy Microgrid Hub for Applied Research and Training (REMHART) facility in East Arm to further research and training. A transportable containerised system offers potential benefits for use in remote communities.

The REMHART facility aims to foster collaborative research with various industries, and government, to find innovative solutions to the challenges associated with the design, deployment, and operation of renewable energy systems.

The Northern Territory Government has a strategy in place to be an Australian centre for hydrogen technology research, production and use. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Professor Steve Rogers said the unique state-of-the-art facility is the corner stone in supporting the Government’s vision for a renewable energy future. 

“It is important to us that renewable energy industries flourish in the NT, we achieve our decarbonisation goals, and we address the energy security of remote communities,” Professor Rogers said. 

“Our REMHART facility aims to pioneer the development of affordable, reliable, and eco-friendly power systems by providing a dedicated space to create and test new technologies.

“This represents a practical stride towards sustainable energy solutions in the NT."

The REMHART facility was established and enhanced with $2 million of funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Strategic University Reform Fund (SURF) program. 

Federal Member for Solomon Luke Gosling OAM MP said by 2050, Australia’s hydrogen industry could generate $50 billion in additional GDP and create more than 16,000 jobs in regional Australia – including here in Darwin.

“The Northern Territory has the resources, technical skills and track record with international partners to seize this opportunity and become a global hydrogen powerhouse,” Mr Gosling said. 

“Commonwealth investment in projects like the Hydrogen Electrolyser and Fuel Cell System ensure we don’t get left behind as the rest of the world continues to move forward.”

During the testing phase, the system has produced hydrogen with the fuel cell producing 5kW of electrical output. 

Pacific Energy’s Chief Executive Officer Jamie Cullen said the company was pleased to collaborate with CDU to deliver this hydrogen production and storage system (H2 SPS) which would play a critical role in developing the energy industry’s understanding of hydrogen as a renewable energy source.

“At Pacific Energy, we are keenly focused on transitioning Australia, and the world, to a clean energy future. That’s why we’re excited to be a part of projects like this one, which will help us overcome some of the challenges we currently face when integrating hydrogen into the renewables mix,” Mr Cullen said.

“We’re incredibly proud to work with Charles Darwin University to deliver our first H2 SPS to them, which we designed and manufactured locally at our facilities in Darwin and Perth, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it supports the university in its important hydrogen studies.”

Source: Charles Darwin University 

To view the media release by Pacific Energy, click here.

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