fire on gas burners

South Australia is continuing its transition to renewable energy, with residents in the Adelaide suburb of Mitchell Park set to become the first customers to receive a cleaner blend of gas – a combination of natural gas and renewable hydrogen.

Renewable hydrogen will comprise no more than five per cent of the total blended renewable gas volume to be supplied to parts of Mitchell Park. The characteristics of the blended renewable gas are consistent with the Australian Standard for natural gas supply.

The renewable hydrogen will be produced at nearby Hydrogen Park of South Australia, located at the Tonsley Innovation District south of Adelaide, and be implemented in homes by mid 2019.

It will then be blended with natural gas and supplied to 710 customers in southern areas of Mitchell Park via the existing natural gas network.

First announced in February 2018, Australian Gas Networks (AGN) – part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) – will construct and operate a $11.4 million hydrogen production facility to produce renewable hydrogen at the Hydrogen Park of South Australia.

AGN received a $4.9 million grant from the South Australian Government’s Renewable Technology Fund to build and operate the project.

Using a 1.25MW proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser, renewable electricity will be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas.

Subject to development approvals, plant construction is due to commence later this year with first production of hydrogen slated for mid 2020.

AGN Chief Customer Officer, Mr Andrew Staniford, said that the project is a key milestone, as it represents the first step towards decarbonising South Australia’s gas networks. 

“Gas consumers clearly want energy bills to be kept low but in a manner reflecting Australia’s commitment to a cleaner future,” Mr Staniford said.

“The Mitchell Park households can expect to be serviced by mid next year with this more environmentally friendly gas supply.

“When burnt, hydrogen, unlike natural gas, does not release any carbon emissions, only water and heat so it is essentially just another gas we can use in place of or blended with natural gas to provide energy and heat.” 

Customers receiving the blended five per cent renewable gas will not notice any difference in their supply.

AGN will purchase (and voluntarily surrender) Large-Scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) to offset the amount of electricity and ensure the five per cent hydrogen supplied to customers is renewable.

There will also be no additional cost to customers receiving the blended five per cent renewable gas and the change will not impact any arrangements these customers have with their existing natural gas retailer.

Similar projects are under development in other states by other gas network operators.

South Australia’s Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, welcomed AGN’s commitment to developing an environmentally-friendly blended renewable gas.

“South Australia’s low cost wind and solar energy gives us a fundamental competitive advantage in producing renewable hydrogen.

“Whilst natural gas is already a low-carbon option for homes and businesses, the blending of renewable hydrogen provides an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions even further.”

The new blended five per cent renewable gas is not the first time hydrogen has been used in Adelaide homes. Before natural gas pipelines were laid in the 1950s, Adelaide properties ran on ‘town gas’ which was manufactured from coal and typically comprised 50-60 per cent hydrogen.

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