South Australia is building the world’s largest 250 MW hydrogen electrolysis facility due to excess renewable energy supply.
In winter, extra energy will be transformed to hydrogen and stored as ammonia. The station’s development is lucrative due to excess generation and the energy storage system’s below 50% efficiency.
The 250 MW electrolysis facility will process surplus renewable energy from the grid. Thus, lots of hydrogen will be produced and stored. Hydrogen will be injected into a 200 MW plant to create grid-feeding energy when renewable energy production drops.
Batteries beat hydrogen for short-term energy storage. Lithium batteries are 90% efficient, while such a system is 50%. Hydrogen is hard to store, thus it must be converted to ammonia or another solid or liquid. No one promotes such ideas since the expense of storage makes it unlikely to compete with huge batteries. Long-term power shortages may benefit from such technologies. Since roughly half of the excess energy at production peaks is stored for future consumption, turning it into hydrogen is a reasonable alternative.
The state government wants to use the project to supply extra hydrogen to other industries for transportation, green steel, domestic gas, manufacturing, and export initiatives.
The facility should be operational by early 2025. Construction costs $415 million.
South Australia’s solar and wind potential helped decarburize it. 70% of the region’s electricity is renewable. 100% is projected before 2030. This state of 1.7 million covered its 180-day electricity needs using renewable energy in 2021.
Tesla installed South Australia’s first lithium-ion Powerpack battery in 2017. Neoen wind farms power the battery. Tesla’s “Big Battery” has helped utility operators cut costs by 90% in just a few months by balancing demand peaks with cheap energy stocks (the battery is charged when there is an excess of power in the grid, when its cost is lowest, and gives it to the grid at consumption peaks, when energy is most expensive).