Work on Australia’s first community microgrid to integrate renewable hydrogen has started in Denham, Western Australia.
The $9.3 million project aims to demonstrate a sustainable alternative to diesel for powering remote towns.
The site, where state-owned utility Horizon Power will build a 704kW solar farm, a 348kW hydrogen electrolyser, and a 100kW fuel cell, was officially opened last week by Western Australia hydrogen industry minister Alannah MacTiernan.
The initiative, which was co-funded by the state McGowan government ($5.7 million) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency ($2.6 million), will be the first time renewable hydrogen is used to power a remote community in Australia.
The coastal town of Denham was chosen for the project because of its proximity to wind and solar resources as well as land availability. Denham is located on one of the state’s westernmost points, about 100 kilometers south of Carnarvon. It actually runs on a mix of diesel and wind energy.
Both the town’s group of four wind turbines, built between 1997 and 1999, and its diesel plant have reached the end of their operating lives, giving Horizon Power the opportunity to find a new and potentially more renewables replacement, as RenewEconomy announced in January 2020.
The Denham microgrid will operate by converting excess renewable energy into hydrogen, which will be stored on site and used as required, including to power up to 100 homes.