Launceston boards flight to green hydrogen

For vacant property near Launceston Airport, a hydrogen facility fueled by solar energy is being planned.

The airport and developer Countrywide Hydrogen inked a memorandum of understanding as Tasmania tries to add the next fuel to its supply of clean energy that powers the state and Australia.

If possible, a solar farm might be constructed on unused airport land to generate electricity for the green hydrogen production process rather than using the grid.

A five-megawatt electrolyzer would then be used to make hydrogen by separating it from water, with the option to scale up and add another electrolyzer if need increased.

According to Tasmanian Energy and Renewables Minister Guy Barnett, “Hydrogen is a booming business and Tasmania has intentions to be a leading and genuinely green, hydrogen generator.”

He claimed that, in areas where electrification is impractical, hydrogen will be an “essential facilitator” for the transition to a clean energy system in Tasmania.

Countrywide is developing a 10 MW electrolyzer plant in Bell Bay and a 5 MW facility at Brighton near Hobart, as well as Victorian projects in Melbourne and Portland, with support of up to $100 million from retirement fund HESTA.

Local green hydrogen could help the Tasmanian industry switch from gas and heavy transport to make the move from diesel to emission-free hydrogen, according to Countrywide, a subsidiary of ASX-listed ReNu Energy.

Solar energy, according to managing director Geoff Drucker, would reduce the cost of hydrogen production and the cost of hydrogen supplied to customers.

The local business and industrial zone may benefit from a decarbonized natural gas network, he added, if Tas Gas were to develop a new gas reticulation system at Western Junction.

The project, if successful, will help Launceston Airport CEO Shane O’Hare’s aggressive emissions reduction goals by supplying solar-powered electricity.

Additionally, he added, “it might help our aim to create a logistical hub at Western Junction that includes road, rail, and air.”

The hub might offer fuel-cell vehicle servicing and maintenance as well as on-site hydrogen refueling for bus and truck drivers, upskilling nearby diesel mechanics and technicians in the process.