Australia is embarking on a groundbreaking project in collaboration with H2EX, Black & Veatch, and two prominent Australian universities to expedite the discovery and extraction of renewable natural hydrogen.
The initiative aims to establish an exploration blueprint for the nascent industry, enabling Australia to maintain its global competitive advantage as a low-cost energy producer while fostering domestic and export market opportunities. With natural hydrogen expected to be significantly cheaper than manufactured hydrogen, this project holds immense potential for Australia’s renewable energy sector.
H2EX, in partnership with the University of Adelaide, Australian National University, and Black & Veatch, will conduct research that paves the way for harnessing natural hydrogen resources. The proponents anticipate that natural hydrogen could be up to 75% cheaper to extract compared to manufactured hydrogen. By leveraging green and passive exploration techniques, the project seeks to accelerate the discovery of natural hydrogen and drive Australia’s renewable energy agenda forward.
The project has secured A$863,000 (US$575,544) in grant funding through the Cooperative Research Council Projects (CRC-P) Round 14 initiative, contributing towards the total estimated cost of A$2.1 million. The exploration activities will take place in H2EX’s license area PEL 691, covering 6000 square kilometers on the Eyre Peninsula in regional South Australia. The project is slated to commence in late 2023 and will span 18 months.
By positioning itself as a pioneer in natural hydrogen exploration, Australia aims to gain valuable first-mover advantages in the emerging global market. The project’s success has the potential to create significant export opportunities while capitalizing on the nation’s esteemed technical and engineering expertise. Retaining a competitive edge in the renewable energy sector will enable Australia to solidify its position as a leading energy producer on the global stage.
Historically, natural hydrogen has been discovered incidentally during activities in the water, mining, and petroleum industries worldwide. In South Australia, hydrogen with purity levels ranging from 50% to 85% was inadvertently found in oil bores drilled a century ago. The accidental discovery of natural hydrogen in Mali, Africa, during water bore drilling exemplifies the potential of natural hydrogen as an energy source. The South Australian government’s amendment of petroleum legislation in 2021 to allow for natural hydrogen exploration underscores its commitment to advancing renewable energy initiatives.
Australia’s partnership between H2EX, Black & Veatch, and renowned universities represents a significant stride in accelerating the exploration and extraction of natural hydrogen. By capitalizing on natural resources and leveraging cutting-edge research, Australia aims to unlock the immense potential of natural hydrogen, providing a more cost-effective alternative to manufactured hydrogen. This project not only positions Australia as a leader in the emerging natural hydrogen sector but also strengthens its renewable energy portfolio and reinforces its commitment to sustainable energy solutions. The successful exploration of natural hydrogen resources could revolutionize the energy landscape and pave the way for a greener, more sustainable future.