It’s been a week of firsts for the accelerating hydrogen industry. Rolls Royce successfully bench-tested the first hydrogen-fueled aero turbine engine, while Andrew Forrest, with help from the premier, opened Western Australia’s first hydrogen refuelling station.

As an alternative, hydrogen is gaining traction as a renewable energy source and combustible fuel in the race towards Net Zero. 

This week hydrogen was also added to household gas pipelines in WA, starting at 2% and aiming at a 10% input volume over time. 

WA’s Renewable Hydrogen Strategy

Western Australia, alongside its shining mineral wealth, also seeks to be a leading global exporter of hydrogen. The state even has a hydrogen industry minister, Alannah McTiernan, who oversees the Renewable Hydrogen Roadmap. 

As the world’s second-largest LNG exporter, with a capacity exceeding 40 million tonnes per year, Western Australia has the transferable skills, capability and established supply chains to become a renewable hydrogen powerhouse. WA hydrogen’s goals encompass four areas until 2030, with the 2022 deadlines now fully achieved.

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WA’s strategic hydrogen goals include the following:

Export – 

  • By 2022: A project approved to export renewable hydrogen from Western Australia.
  • Export by 2030: Western Australia’s market share in global hydrogen exports is similar to its share in LNG today.

Remote Applications – 

  • By 2022: Renewable hydrogen will be used in one remote location in Western Australia.
  • By 2030:  Renewable hydrogen will be widely used in mining haulage vehicles.

Hydrogen blending in natural gas networks – 

  • By 2022: Renewable hydrogen will be distributed in a Western Australian gas network. 
  • By 2030: Western Australia’s gas pipelines and networks will contain up to 10% renewable hydrogen blend

Transport – 

  • By 2022: A refuelling facility for hydrogen vehicles will be available in Western Australia
  • By 2030: Renewable hydrogen will be a significant fuel source for transportation in regional Western Australia

An Open Road for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

Operated by Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries, a new hydrogen refuelling station in Perth will power a fleet of 12 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs). 

The facility, housed in Perth’s Clean Energy Innovation Hub, is also connected to WA’s gas network and will blend hydrogen into the mix as part of a trial for more than 2,700 businesses and households.

At the launch, Mr Forrest was upbeat about the potential of the hydrogen industry.

“Green hydrogen is a practical, implementable solution that we all need to help combat global warming and our mission at Fortescue is to make this renewable alternative to fossil fuels available at a global scale and at competitive cost,” he said. 

The refuelling station will use a 200kW hydrogen electrolyser, making 65kg of green hydrogen daily. 

The Mirai uses almost 1kg of hydrogen for every 100 km, so it will need up to 6 kilograms to refuel.

On the upside, the station can refuel a Mirai in just five minutes, which is quicker than an EV charger to top up an electric vehicle. 

The World’s First Green Hydrogen Turbine Test

Rolls Royce and easyJet have completed a premiere test run of a modern aero engine on green hydrogen fuel. 

It’s predicted that zero-emission propulsion technologies, like hydrogen and all-electric aircraft, will reach maturity in the coming decade.  

Following a breakdown of the early concept ground test, the partners plan a series of further rig runs in the lead-up to a full-scale test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine.

A report from March 2022 revealed that liquid hydrogen could fuel a midsized aircraft with 280 passengers from London to San Francisco directly or from London to Auckland with only one stop.


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