A$600m hydrogen refuelling planned for Hume Highway

23rd June 2022 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Australian companies Hydrogen Fuels Australia (H2FA) and CLARA Energy will build a A$600-million green hydrogen distribution network along the Hume Highway corridor running between New South Wales and Victoria.

The first hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) is scheduled to open in 2025. 

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to fast-track their joint development of up to five HRSs between Melbourne and Sydney.

CLARA Energy is already well advanced with planning to start operations by 2025 of one of the world's largest green hydrogen production facilities in Tarcutta, in New South Wales, while H2FA is currently constructing its own large-scale HRS in Truganina.

The CLARA Energy project will have the capacity in Stage 1 to produce approximately 25 000 kg/d of green hydrogen at a price competitive with diesel. Stage 1 will provide adequate green hydrogen supply for approximately 200 heavy haulage trucks running between Sydney and Melbourne daily.

The project's two subsequent stages should bring total daily production to at least 100 000 kg/d, enough green hydrogen to support 800 heavy haulage trucks and abating more than 57 000 t of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by diesel engines. 

The cost of the first stage of the Tarcutta project, which includes a major solar PV installation and the use of electrolysers to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen, will be approximately A$500-million.

Initially, H2FA's 5-ha site will produce 60 kg to 90 kg of green hydrogen from its own 640 kW solar array using a green hydrogen system electrolyser. Permits are in place to ramp up to a refuelling capability of up to 6 500 kg/d, making it one of the largest HRSs in the world.

The two companies are collaborating on the large-scale hydrogen project in Tarcutta, where CLARA Energy will be developing production capacity at scale, and H2FA will act as distributor and station operator.  The facilities will support freight and logistics companies transitioning their fleets from diesel to hydrogen.

Each diesel truck replaced with a hydrogen alternative will abate approximately 2.4 t of CO2 on a Melbourne-to-Sydney return journey.

The companies are planning to build additional green HRSs in Epping and Seymour, in Victoria, along with another in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales and a major refuelling station in Sydney. This will complete Australia's first Hume Highway green hydrogen refuelling network.

“Creating a green hydrogen production and distribution network along the Hume Highway can help the whole hydrogen industry become viable in Australia. We know the Hume is the busiest truck route in Australia and once the major logistics companies know there will be guaranteed supply of hydrogen at a commercially viable price, it will provide even greater confidence to accelerate the transition of their fleets,” said CLARA Energy CEO Nick Cleary.

H2FA MD Francesco Ceravolo said that the partnership would deliver green hydrogen production and distribution at scale.

“We believe green hydrogen is necessary to decarbonise heavy freight and ultimately lead to the complete displacement of diesel for green hydrogen,” said Ceravolo.

The two companies are already in discussions with truck fleet operators regarding their plans to transition their diesel fleets to new green hydrogen-powered trucks, saying on Thursday that having new hydrogen refuelling infrastructure completed in time for their arrival is critical for Australia's decarbonisation pledges.

The agreement between CLARA Energy and H2FA comes as the Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland governments announced a tripartite Hydrogen Highway strategy to create hydrogen refuelling stations along the main arterial roads along the East Coast of Australia, to facilitate a smooth transition from diesel to green hydrogen transport in the coming decades.