Emission Control: It’s all systems go for Origin Energy’s 2,800MWh big battery
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The upcoming early closure of the Eraring coal plant, earmarked for 2025 – around seven years earlier than expected – caused much gnashing of teeth in the halls of power at the time.
Since then, Australia’s Energy and Emission Reduction Minister Angus Taylor proposed a rule change that would see coal plants required to give the energy market regulator five years notice before shutting down.
But now, Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) has made good on the replacement for the ageing coal plant with its proposed battery system receiving the tick of approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
With an overall capacity of up to 700MW and four hours of storage, or 2,800MWh, the Eraring battery will be Australia’s largest battery project to achieve planning approval to date.
Origin’s head of energy supply and operations, Greg Jarvis, said the battery forms part of the company’s plans to replace Eraring’s capacity and maintain reliable supply to customers as it plans for the accelerated closure of the coal-fired power station in August 2025.
“Eraring power station is well suited to battery storage and potentially other energy infrastructure over time, as there is extensive electricity connection infrastructure already in place,” he said.
“Origin will now focus on finalising vendor and constructor negotiations and transmissions connection agreements so the project can progress towards a final investment decision.”
Our neighbours across the pond are racing ahead in the green hydrogen game as construction works of New Zealand’s first high-capacity green hydrogen refuelling station kicked off last week.
This marks the first of four hydrogen refuelling stations to be developed by Kiwi energy companies Hiringa Energy and Waitomo Group.
The two companies have partnered together to build New Zealand’s first nationwide hydrogen refuelling network, one of the first refuelling networks for heavy transport in the world.
Financial backing for the project has been provided through investment from Hiringa’s strategic alliance partners Mitsui and Co (Asia-Pacific), government funding from EECA and the COVID-19 Recovery Fund, as well as growth capital from key investors.
Hiringa Energy CEO Andrew Clennett says heavy transport makes up only four per cent of New Zealand’s vehicles, but accounts for more than 25 per cent of the country’s total vehicle emissions.
“Green hydrogen is the key technology that will allow these fleets to stay on the road,” he said.
“It is a mass-market, clean energy solution that can have a real impact on reducing our transport emissions.
“Adding low-emission alternative fuel solutions to our network is a no-brainer, we want to leave a legacy for the next generation to continue in our footsteps.
“The exciting opportunities that green hydrogen technology offers allows us to deliver on that.”
The other three hydrogen refuelling stations are due to begin construction later this year in Hamilton, Tauriko and Auckland, creating a network servicing more than 95 per cent of New Zealand’s North Island heavy freight routes.
Expansion of the refuelling network into the South Island will begin in 2023, with 24 high-capacity refuelling stations due to come online across New Zealand in the next 4-5 years to support a growing fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Hiringa Energy says an initial fleet of 20 zero-emission Hyzon hydrogen-powered trucks to support the network has been purchased by TR Group.
Built to meet New Zealand regulations and the demanding road conditions, the trucks will be capable of over 600km of range between refuelling stops.
Australia’s largest bus builder, Volgren, has extended its zero-emission capabilities by partnering with leading European hydrogen bus manufacturer, Writghtbus, to develop and deploy hydrogen powered fuel cell buses for the Australian market.
The partnership announcement follows Volgren’s successful grant from the Victorian Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Commercialisation Pathways Fund.
It has been revealed that the partnership will see the manufacture of two zero-emission hydrogen single deck buses, powered by NexGen hydrogen fuel cell powertrains developed by Wrightbus.
Wrightbus CEO Buta Atwal said as the UK’s leading bus manufacturer with world-leading products, the company is incredibly proud to be partnering with Volgren.
“Like us, Volgren is always on the cutting edge of new and emerging technology to drive the industry forwards,” he said.
“There are some fantastic parallels between the two companies and we’re looking forward to a long and successful working relationship.”
Atwal said this is the first time Wrightbus has exported its powertrain technology to a bus body manufacturer and the first time the company has entered the Australian market as a business.
“The hydrogen buses will also be the first of their kind to be built in Australia, so this is a significant deal for everyone involved,” he said.
“We know from our extensive experience the significant part hydrogen can play in the decarbonisation of public transport and we believe the scope for uptake across the Australian market is huge as the country makes the vital switch to zero-emission vehicles.”
The Volgren-Wrightbuses are expected to be ready in the first few months of 2023 and will be the first hydrogen buses in Australia to be built by an Australian manufacturer using European chassis technology.
It’s been a pretty appalling week for renewable energy stocks.
IRD wants to develop a mammoth green hydrogen project for iron ore pellet production in South Australia’s proposed Cape Hardy port.
Iron Road revealed in its March quarter report that initial market engagement will kick off in the current quarter and “will be complementary to the already well-established designs for the CEIP iron concentrate handling at the port and preliminary designs for grain handling and storage facilities.”
New Energy Solar, on the other hand, acquires, owns and manages large scale solar generation facilities.
Like IRD, the company had no news out over the past two weeks, however back in February the board elected to conduct a sales process for its US solar assets.
The process will encompass “whole-of-portfolio and individual asset transactions”, the company said.
Updates on the sales process will be provided in due course.
Frontier Energy’s Green Hydrogen Study has identified multiple existing water sources suitable for green hydrogen production near its Bristol Springs Solar Project in WA.
The company says accessing an existing water solution means the development of a desalination plant is not required – which significantly reduces both the capital and operating costs as well as the development timeline.
Water is an essential element for green hydrogen production through electrolysis, with nine litres of suitable water (H20) required for every kilogram of hydrogen (H2) produced.
The project is expected to provide enough power for 45,000 homes and abate 180,000t of CO2 emissions per year.
FHE managing director Mike Young said the importance of accessing suitable water for green hydrogen production is a critical aspect many appear to be overlooking regarding the development of a sustainable green hydrogen industry.
“The location of our Bristol Springs Project has again given Frontier a major advantage to others with multiple options throughout the region for existing water access,” he said.
“Being on the SWIS allows the company to transfer our green electrons to the most suitably located hydrogen facility.”