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World’s biggest hydrogen power plant goes up in South Australia

By Nergis Firtina,

Hydrogen plant

The construction of the world's largest green electrolyzer and hydrogen power plant is a specialty of priority for the South Australian government these days.

As reported by Renew Economy, the South Australian government is ready to build a 250 MW hydrogen electrolyzer, which will be 10 times bigger than its counterparts. Sam Crafter, the CEO of the Office of Hydrogen Power in South Australia, will lead the project.

Crafter is seeing a similar level of doubt about this project as he did about the Tesla big battery. “I think everyone was skeptical… I mean, everyone,” Crafter says to Renew Economy.

Crafter calls the plan basic but bold. By constructing these industry-leading projects, South Australia intends to attract international business and ensure that it will pave the way for much larger projects at the nearby green hydrogen hub in Port Bonython and the steel city of Whyalla.

“It will be .. the launching pad to get to those larger scale projects that the industry is rushing towards,” he says. “So we think that’s an advantage that we have there.”
A hydrogen pipeline illustrating the transformation of the energy. Petmal/iStock

Provided by Frontier Economics

London-based Frontier Economics has offered some modeling for the potential operation of the electrolyzer and power plant. The power plant will be more adaptable, providing electricity during high-demand and high-cost periods. When the electrolyzer is running, it hardly ever works.

“There is no opportunity to arbitrage spot prices if the electrolyzer and hydrogen turbine operate at the same time,” Frontier Economics says.

Crafter points out that South Australia presently gets just over 69 percent of its energy from wind and solar. That percentage is anticipated to reach 100 percent in the coming years.

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“So what we need is more dispatchable power. The government has a history here in South Australia of looking to be a leader in technology development in the renewable space,” he says.

“We did that, obviously, with the storage projects that we’ve done in the past around the big battery that Neoen and Tesla built here.

There is a problem with green hydrogen power

Comparisons between hydrogen cars and electric automobiles show that the inefficiency of green hydrogen power plants is a problem. The efficiency of EVs is nearly four times higher.

Many analysts think that battery storage, powered by solar and wind energy, is more effective and economical to fulfill short-term dispatchable needs and that other technologies, like pumped hydro, can handle seasonal and long-term issues.

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