The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded $2.6 million in funding to Horizon Power to build Australia’s first remote microgrid using renewable hydrogen generation in Denham, Western Australia.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project will be a first-of-its-kind demonstration that will utilise solar and renewable hydrogen generation and storage to provide 526 MWh per annum of dispatchable renewable electricity, enough to power 100 residential homes.
“Remote and off-grid communities like Denham suffer from high energy costs due to costly diesel-based energy generation systems,” Mr Miller 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.
The project – which is also supported by the WA Government with a further $5.7 million in funding – will see Horizon Power build the hybrid solar and hydrogen power system at Denham due to the close proximity to quality wind and solar resources, availability of land, access to water and the need to find a solution to replace the current ageing diesel power station.
The plant will consist of a 348 kW hydrogen electrolyser with accompanying compression and storage and 100 kW fuel cell, alongside 704 kW of solar that will power the electrolyser to produce hydrogen for storage which can later be used in the fuel cell to deliver electricity when it is needed.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the landmark Denham hydrogen will place regional Western Australia at the cutting edge of hydrogen application.
“The outcomes of this project will not only help to advance hydrogen developments across Australia, but will help keep the lights on for a remote community,” Minister Taylor said.
“Prioritising hydrogen under the Technology Investment Roadmap and backing projects like this will teach us more about how hydrogen can form part of Australia’s energy mix to drive down prices and reduce emissions.
“Importantly, this funding will provide reliable and affordable energy solutions to remote and indigenous communities, supporting economic development, local jobs and reducing disadvantage for households.”
Horizon Power CEO Stephanie Unwin said the project will extend the company’s knowledge and technical capability of hydrogen operating systems and test how to integrate and deploy this technology into remote diesel microgrids, common across regional WA.
“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,” Ms Unwin said.
“This technology has the potential to be an environmental game changer for many remote towns in Western Australia and other similar locations around Australia, and allow greater uptake of reliable cleaner, greener renewable energy sources in the future.”
According to Horizon, construction will start August 2021, with commissioning to commence in December the same year.