UNSW looks into hydrogen as renewable energy source

Researchers from the University of New South Wales were awarded a grant that will maximise Australia’s opportunities in developing a cost-effective hydrogen export supply chain.

They will be receiving a share of more than A$ 22.1 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for research into hydrogen as a means to exporting renewable energy, according to a recent report.

Hydrogen, or carriers like ammonia, is a potential way for the country to export renewable energy. Electrical energy can be readily converted into hydrogen via electrolysis.

Renewable or green hydrogen involves producing hydrogen from renewable sources such as electrolysers powered by solar and wind.

The aim of this funding is to maximise the opportunities of Australia in developing a cost-effective hydrogen export supply chain.

This is the first time that grants in this specific field have been offered.

The University will receive more than A$ 2.35 million for two projects that will be concentrating on solar energy as a way to create better means to produce renewable hydrogen.

A$ 1.3 million will go to a researcher whose focus is on the “highly efficient and low cost photovoltaic-electrolysis (PVE) system to generate hydrogen by harvesting the full spectrum of sunlight”.

High cost and modest efficiency are the current obstacles to using PVE, or solar, in producing hydrogen. The goal of this project is to produce a low-cost, highly efficient integrated PVE system that can use sunlight as the sole source of electricity, heat and light to produce hydrogen from water.

Another researcher will be receiving A$ 1.045 million to investigate a system that can convert organic waste in renewable hydrogen using solar energy.

Called “Waste Biomass to Renewable Hydrogen”, the project aims to develop a method to treat organic waste with heat from the sun to convert it into a form from which solar technology is used to extract hydrogen.

A major benefit of this will be the creation of a sustainable process that extracts hydrogen from a waste stream with no carbon-dioxide by-product.

As global demand for renewable energy increases, hydrogen is a likely potential export market for Australia, particularly to Asia.

The work that the University engineers are doing now will have a major impact on the nation’s ability to capitalise on this opportunity.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funds innovation and shares knowledge, accelerating Australia’s shift to a renewable energy future.

It supports the development of local renewable energy technology by helping bring the best ideas to life.

Ideas need funding, networks and knowledge to flourish, and ARENA helps in all three.