Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “Australia”

Fitch – Netherlands, Australia Global Hydrogen Frontrunners


Nearly 300 H2 tech firms already operating in the Netherlands with projects clustered around Amsterdam and Rotterdam Ports. The Netherlands and Australia are two markets that are leading the regulatory, policy and strategy space for green hydrogen (produced from renewables via electrolysis) and demonstrating supportive traits of growth, Fitch Solutions said.

The Netherlands has an enormous strategic advantage: being Europoort, that is the Gateway to Europe via the Rhine and Maas river delta, connecting the Seven Seas to the largest unified market in the world. What applies to goods, will apply to hydrogen as well. The Netherlands once possessed the 9th largest natural gas field in the world, gas that was distributed via a vast pipeline network all over Western Europe. That network can and will be retrofitted for hydrogen.

[source] Rotterdam is still the largest harbor of the entire Atlantic world (EU+US). Goods from all over the world arrive here first, offering endless opportunities for added value chains, before further shipment into the European hinterland. Rotterdam, for example, harbors the largest oil refinery in Europe. There is good reason to assume that raw hydrogen, shipped into Rotterdam harbor from all over the world, will offer similar opportunities, like the production of ammonia or borohydride.

[] – Netherlands, Australia leading markets for green hydrogen rules and policies: Fitch Solutions
[deepresource] – The Netherlands is Placing its Bets on the Hydrogen Economy
[deepresource] – European Hydrogen Backbone
[deepresource] – Soil High Pressure Hydrogen Storage in the Netherlands

BP Study Hints at Australian Hydrogen for AUD$2/kg

Study* BP confirms Australia’s potential to produce green hydrogen on a large scale at a cost of less than AUD$2/kg (approximately current gas price).

1 AUD = 1.39 USD.

[] – BP Renewable Hydrogen and Ammonia Feasibility Study
[] – Martien Visser

The yellow area would suffice to provide the Netherlands and Belgium with sufficient green hydrogen to meet their entire primary energy needs. According to BP, this can be done at the same price level as with natural gas. Enormous business opportunities are looming for the world’s sunny areas: Australia, Africa, Middle-East, Arizona, Chile. And for those countries that can deliver the solar panels and electrolyser equipment.

50 GW Green Hydrogen Plan for West-Australia by 2030

The two companies CWP Global and InterContinental Energy were not deterred by the recent rejection by the Australian government of their 26 GW green hydrogen scheme and came back with a new, even bigger 50 GW proposal. The difference seems to be that this time, aboriginal organizations seem to be on board.

Some data: an area of 15,000 km2 would be implicated, total cost B100$, annual production target 3.5 m tonnes hydrogen, to be converted into 20 m tonnes NH3. Current national Australian power production from mostly conventional sources: 54 GW. Start date first production: 2030. The green fuel is intended to be used in electricity production, shipping, aviation and heavy industry like steel production.

[] – InterContinental Energy announces 50 GW WA green hydrogen hub
[] – Plan to build world’s biggest renewable energy hub in W-Australia
[] – ‘Historic’ 50 GW green hydrogen hub proposed for WA
[] – Asian Renewable Energy Hub

The Australian project would out-bid a German plan for Kazakhstan:

[] – Green hydrogen plan to tap 45GW wind/solar Kazakhstan

As a sobering reminder, this news comes quickly after a recent rejection by the federal government of a smaller scheme:

[] – ‘Rapid’ rejection of $50 billion renewable energy hub

Application of CSP in Agriculture

[] – 36.6 MW integrated energy system based on CSP in Australia
[deepresource] – Growing Crops in the Australian Desert with Seawater

Australian Startup Claims it Can Cut Cost Electrolisys by a Third

The news is a little thin on technical details. Plasma electrolysis?

From Rechargenews:

Understandably, HSA is keeping the details of its technology close to its chest, but executive director Brian Power tells Recharge that it works by using electrical power inside a plasma chamber at certain frequencies that elicit favourable responses from the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water — a process that he says requires much less power than standard PEM or alkaline electrolysers.

“We’re letting the frequencies do all the work, whereas [a standard electrolyser] lets the electricity do all the work,” he says.

[] – Plasma electrolysers cut cost green hydrogen by a factor of 3
[] – Company site
[] – Plasma (physics)
[] – Electrode less water “electrolyses” using a radio frequency plasma (2016)
[] – Contact Glow Discharge Electrolysis (2020)
[] – Plasma-driven solution electrolysis (2021)
[] – Hydrogen Production by Plasma Electrolysis (2006)

Read more…

Australia Chickens Out of Vast Hydrogen AREH Project

The idea was to turn West-Australia, with its excellent solar conditions, into the world’s largest renewable energy and hydrogen/ammonia hub. However, these 26 GW/$36B turned out to be a too-big-a-chunck to chew on. The official excuse was: “potential impacts on migratory birds and wetlands in Western Australia”.

Perhaps the rapidly deteriorating Chinese-Australian diplomatic relations could have something to do with it. The hydrogen, after all, was intended to be sold on Asian markets.

It looks like the development of the global hydrogen economy will come down mostly on European shoulders after all.

That’s OK.

[] – Green hydrogen blow as $36bn global flagship project ruled ‘clearly unacceptable’ by Australia
[] – Asian Renewable Energy Hub
[deepresource] – Global Top-13 Green Hydrogen Projects
[deepresource] – Electrolyzer Project Pipeline

LAVO – Residential Hydrogen Storage

LAVO Marketing video

The Australian start-up LAVO has introduced an energy storage device, based on hydrogen, that is produced locally in an electrolyzer and stored in metal, like water in a sponge. The energy is retrieved as electricity via a fuel cell. Storage capacity 40 kWh, which is 3 times a Tesla Power Wall, but with the same size and price, perhaps, is $34k. Vague about round-trip efficiency, perhaps lower than 50%, where a battery has 75-90%.

Website comment: it seems to make little sense to replace a battery with a small electrolyzer/fuell cell. Hydrogen brings added value only if it can provide seasonal storage, in the range of several months, not days; we have cheaper, more efficient batteries or pumped hydro for that. Nevertheless, bringing hydrogen storage to private homes is impressive, and we can only wish them success.

[] – LAVO company site
[] – Home hydrogen battery stores 3x the energy of a Powerwall 2
[] – Waterstofopslag voor woningen en bedrijven komt op de markt

Review from hell:

[] – LAVO’s Australian Made Hydrogen Battery: Incredible Engineering. Tough Sell.

Battery prices in Europe, ca. $500,-/kWh

[] – Batterijen

Read more…

$50 Million for Hydrogen Project in Tasmania

Solar Farm Material Input per Unit of Energy

Australian nuclear lobby club “Bright New World” came with figures to diss solar power plants. The real numbers from the Kentucky Solar Farm (KSF) were offset against BNW figures.

[] – Material Input per Unit of Energy
[] – Bright New World site

Australia on Course to Become #1 Green Steel Producer

[source] – Australian mineral facts

First a few facts:

  • Global steel production is currently responsible for 7% of global green house gas emissions.
  • Australia is the largest iron ore exporter in the world, by far (53%).
  • The overwhelming majority in the world backs the Paris Accords.
  • Australia is nearly empty and sunlit.

[source] – Western Australian, that is 2300+ kWh/year or 250+ kWh/year electricity.

Put these four facts in a cocktail shaker, shake firmly and what comes out is a solid business case for an enormous opportunity for Australia. How about Australia stop exporting iron ore. How about placing endless solar arrays in the Western Australian desert. Use the resulting renewable electricity to produce hydrogen. And with that hydrogen produce green steel, ship it from the Western Australian port of Kalbarri and sell it on world markets, with considerable added value as compared to iron ore. Steel is easier to ship and handle than hydrogen. Better to use that hydrogen directly at the source to produce a major commodity.

This is how much of Western Australia looks like

[] – Australia to become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy
[] – Siemens backs Aussie plan to produce hydrogen via 5GW PV
[] – List of countries by iron-ore exports

[source] Iron ore exporters

Water Desalinization With Sunlight

A global research team has been able to transform brackish water and seawater into safe, clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes using metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and sunlight.

In a discovery that could provide potable water for millions of people across the world, researchers were not only able to filter harmful particles from water and generate 139.5L of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day, but also perform this task in a more energy-efficient manner than current desalination practices.

[] – Breakthrough technology purifies water using the power of sunlight
[] – ‘Light responsive’ technology turns seawater into clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes
[] – Metal–organic framework (MOF)

3D-Printed Houses Update

Westerlo, Belgium

3D-house printing could mean the end of the misery of all these shanty towns around the world. As a rule-of-thumb, a family can afford and finance a home that costs 3 times the yearly income. For $4000,- that means almost everybody on the planet. By the turn of the century, all people around the world living in a 3D-printed home, with a flat panel, space-based internet and solar panels on the roof, is a positive and realistic vision, something to work towards.

[] – 3D-printed model home by Kamp C in Westerlo
[] – Grand Design: How 3D Printing Could Change Our World
[deepresource] – 3D-Printed Home for $4000,-
[] – How 3D Printing Can Help Power the Energy Industry


[] – This building in Dubai is the largest 3D-printed structure in the world — and it took just 3 workers and a printer to build it

Australia to Become Renewable Energy Super Power

Australia has discovered ammonia as a potential carrier of hydrogen fuel. Australia has what wealthy, densely populated Asian countries like Japan and Korea haven’t: large amounts of empty, sunlit desert spaces, that all of a sudden could play a major role in the developing global hydrogen economy. Spaces that could be used to build huge solar panel arrays, the electricity output of which could be converted into hydrogen and ammonia, to be sold on global energy markets.

What the Australian institute CSIRO achieved is a novel way how to gain hydrogen back from storage medium ammonia, using metal membrane technology:

[] – CSIRO Demonstrates Ammonia-to-Hydrogen Fueling System
[] – Hydrogen fuel breakthrough could fire up massive new export market
[] – Metal membrane for hydrogen separation
[] – Hydrogen Could Power Australia’s Next Export Boom

Read more…

Yara Green Ammonia

The French multinational electric utility company ENGIE and the Norwegian chemical company Yara International ASA are combining forces, together with the Australian government, to study the production of green ammonia from renewable hydrogen, intended to be used as a raw material fertilizer and as a means to store renewable energy. The intention is to set up a plant in Pilbara, Western Australia.

Independently, the Australian government has allocated $44m for a green hydrogen project, with an electrolyzer capacity of at least 10MW.

[] – Yara and ENGIE to test green hydrogen technology in fertilizer production
[] – Yara to study ammonia production with green hydrogen
[] – Australia opens $44m funding round for green hydrogen
[] – Yara International
[] – Engie

Growing Crops in the Australian Desert with Seawater

All you need to create a vegetable oasis in the middle of the desert is a pipeline to the sea, a CSP-power station and simple thermal-based desalinization installation. No need for fossil fuel or ground water extraction. It is difficult to come up with a more sustainable solution than this. In this century we don’t need oil pipelines, we need sea-water pipelines to bring life to the desert.

Sundrop Farms is a developer, owner and operator of high tech greenhouse facilities which grow crops using methods which reduce reliance on finite natural resources when compared to conventional greenhouse production. Sundrop Farms opened its first pilot facility in Port Augusta, South Australia, in 2010 (operating as Seawater Greenhouse Australia Pty Ltd). This facility was originally designed as a Seawater Greenhouse. However, significant technology changes led to the Sundrop System, and the dissolution of the joint venture with Seawater Greenhouse Ltd. Sundrop Farms commissioned an expanded 20 ha facility south of Port Augusta in 2016. Sundrop Farms has offices in London, UK and Adelaide, Australia. In October 2016, Sundrop Farms was operating greenhouses in Portugal, the United States and had another facility planned in Australia.

At that point [2008] Sundrop Farms was just a “two-person business”, involving now chief executive and German-born former investment banker Philipp Saumweber and Dutch civil engineer and chief technical officer Reinier Wolterbeek, and a theory of integrating solar power, electricity generation, fresh water production and hydroponics to grow crops in non-traditional conditions.

Project data:

– Officially launched in October 2016, after 6 years incubation
– Production ca. 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes/year (15% Australian market)
– Tomato plants are grown hydroponically (without soil)
– Sea water pipe: 45 cm diameter, 5 km long, flow 1,000 m3/day
– CSP plant of 23,000 mirrors for electricity (39 MW) and desalinization
– CSP tower 115 m
– Farm can operate pesticide-free
– Left-over brine is transported back to the sea
– Size greenhouse 20 hectare (200,000 m2)
– The CSP plant is Danish, the greenhouse Dutch
– Price 134 million euro

[] – Sundrop Farms project site
[] – Sundrop Farms
[] – Hydroponics
[] – These farms use sun and seawater to grow crops in the arid desert
[] – New owners for Sundrop Farms
[] – Sundrop Farms
[] – Sundrop Farms pioneering solar-powered greenhouse
[] – Nederlander kweekt 17.000 ton zoete tomaten op zeewater

Lithium-Sulfur Battery Breakthrough

Researchers from Monash University in Australia have presented a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery that they claim will enable mobile phone batteries with a charge that lasts five days or car batteries with a range of 1,000 km. The battery cells have been produced in Germany at the Fraunhofer Institute and were tested and patented in Australia.

[] – ‘World’s Most Efficient Battery’ Can Power a Smartphone For Five Days
[] – World’s most efficient lithium-sulfur battery
[] – Supercharging tomorrow: Monash develops world’s most efficient lithium-sulfur battery

Solar Team Eindhoven Wins World Solar Challenge in Australia

The World Solar Challenge has resulted in a broadly supported startup called “Lightyear One“, that has begun producing solar powered cars for the market. Perhaps this car can participate as a non-competing guest in WSC-2021?

Solar Team Eindhoven won for the fourth time in a row the World Solar Challenge in Australia in the cruiser class (family car). The Low Countries dominated anyway, with Team Agoria of the the University of Leuven winning the speed racing class, when Delft University had to abandon at 90% of race at pole position when their vehicle burned out completely.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte congratulates Solar Team Eindhoven

The 2019 innovation was the autonomous driving aspect, enabling the car to find a sunny spot all by itself.

[] – Lightyear One company site
[] – It’s Cruise Control All The Way From Solar Team Eindhoven
[] – Bridgestone guarantees another decade of WSC sponsorship
[] – Dutch company develops partly solar powered car

Australia’s Booming Renewable Energy Industry Starts Hitting Hurdles

Up to 530,000 Potential Pumped Hydro Storage Locations


The best way to store large amounts of renewable energy in order to be able to bridge a couple of hours, for instance during the night, is still pumped hydro storage, currently covering more than 90% of the world’s electricity storage capacity. For this you don’t need a river, it suffices to have two nearby reservoirs, like lakes, at a different altitude. If you have excess renewable energy you can use it to pump water from the lower to the more elevated reservoir. If you have not enough renewable energy, you can release water from the higher reservoir into the lower and use the falling water to drive turbines and generate electricity. The round-trip efficiency is something like 80%.

Researchers from the Australian National University have identified 530,000 sites that could serve as a potential pumped hydro storage site. In reality that number will be lower, because of a lot of factors that were not considered in this study. But, the university stresses that the world only needs of fraction of that 530,000 locations to achieve a 100% renewable energy base.

Takeaway point: there is more than enough potential for pumped hydro storage.

[] – ANU finds 530,000 potential pumped-hydro sites worldwide
[] – Geographic information system algorithms to locate prospective sites for pumped hydro energy storage

Australian University Turns CO2 Back Into Coal Again

With fluid metal as catalyst, Australian scientists from the RMIT university succeeded in turning CO2 back in coal again at room-temperature.

[] – Forscher wandeln Kohlendioxid wieder in Kohle um
[] – Room temperature CO2 reduction to solid carbon species on liquid metals featuring atomically thin ceria interfaces

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