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Victoria Gets Next-Generation Hydrogen Service Station

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) recently announced AUS$22.8 million in funding to a local energy company to develop, build and operate the New Energies Service Station located in Geelong, Victoria, to support the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) in heavy fleets.

The project will be built opposite the energy company’s petroleum refinery and incorporate a 2 MW electrolyser along with hydrogen compression, storage and dispensing infrastructure. The service station will also include 150 kW electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities.

ARENA’s funding will go towards both the renewable hydrogen and EV infrastructure, as well as to subsidise the purchase and operations of 15 hydrogen FCEVs to help fast-track FCEV uptake. ARENA funding for the FCEVs will be paid upon the delivery of the vehicles.

The company’s AUS$43.3 million project will allow for the procurement, delivery and operation of the hydrogen FCEVs to utilise renewable hydrogen from the New Energies Service Station. Over time, the energy company hopes to add traditional diesel refuelling on-site to allow drivers to witness FCEV charging.

All vehicles will be purchased and owned by project partners. Four firms have committed to purchasing hydrogen FCEVs for their fleets which include prime movers, wastewater and municipal waste collection vehicles and buses.

Locating the project adjacent to the company’s Geelong refinery provides several benefits to the project, including a high level of visibility, due to its proximity to major arterial roads and being within an existing industrial area, as well as access to high voltage infrastructure and access to recycled water from the nearby Barwon Water recycling plant for the production of hydrogen.

The CEO of ARENA stated that the project will help to accelerate the commercialisation pathways for FCEV fleets in Australia. The agency is excited to be working with the energy company to build Australia’s first publicly available hydrogen refuelling station for independent fleets.

The experiences of the energy firm and fleet vehicles using the renewable hydrogen produced onsite for refuelling will provide valuable insights into the operation of different types of hydrogen FCEV heavy vehicles. This project will be a key opportunity for early uptake of commercially viable hydrogen and a service station model that could be replicated across Australia as the price of electrolyser technology drops, the ARENA CEO said.

The CEO of the local energy company stated that the funding from ARENA has opened the door for the company to work with long-term customers to demonstrate the important role that hydrogen will play in the future of transportation in Australia. This project puts hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road to prove their value in day-to-day commercial operations while reducing the carbon footprint of the heavy vehicle transport that is relied on every day, he added.

ARENA has previously funded light vehicle hydrogen FCEV projects with Toyota to build refuelling infrastructure at their repurposed Altona car manufacturing site to support passenger vehicles and forklifts, and BOC who will install a hydrogen refuelling station in Brisbane for passenger fleets. ARENA is also supporting Ark Energy to deploy five FCEV prime movers operating between its zinc refinery and the Port of Townsville.

Current low-cost hydrogen production methods are based on fossil fuels and are associated with GHG emissions. The process for the production of renewable hydrogen via electrolysis has not yet reached the necessary efficiency and scalability for industrial application because it is more expensive and requires further development to become competitive on a large scale.

Electrolysis technology offers several advantages, such as the production of carbon-neutral fuel, integration of renewable energies, facilitation of the electricity grid balance, and enhancement of the sustainable use of surplus energy.

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