Hydrogen opens opportunities for the bush

Hydrogen opens opportunities for the bush

100 Stories of Hope
Speaking in Wagga Wagga, Dr Neil Thompson is Adjunct Associate Professor, Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology as well as being managing director ITM Power.

Speaking in Wagga Wagga, Dr Neil Thompson is Adjunct Associate Professor, Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology as well as being managing director ITM Power.

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There are alternative solutions to fossil fuels for energy and the audience was advised Australia has potentially a big part to play in global production.

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When it comes to renewable energy there are lots of opportunities in this wide brown land according to the many keynote speakers who addressed the National Renewables in Agriculture Conference and Expo held in Wagga Wagga.

Many landholders listened with interest as they heard of ongoing technological developments which could enhance agricultures economic competitiveness in the coming years.

There are alternative solutions to fossil fuels for energy and the audience was advised Australia has potentially a big part to play in global production, according to Dr Neil Thompson who is Adjunct Associate Professor, Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology as well as being managing director ITM Power.

In those positions, Dr Thompson is at the leading edge in the development of technology harnessing the latent power of Hydrogen.

We started ten years ago with a ten kilowatt unit and now we are making the largest electrolyser in the world with ten megawatt capacity, he said.

An electrolyser basically takes renewable energy that could be taken out of the grid at negative cost or it could be solar and combined with waste water we turn it into hydrogen, oxygen and heat.

Dr Thompson emphasized the process does not use high grade or potable water.

We can use bore water from the Great Artesian Basin and we are working with local councils using the recycled water from their sewage plants, he said.

The beautiful thing about Hydrogen is it cuts across multiple sectors.

With Hydrogen we can make renewable power, we can make coolant through absorption, we can use it for transport fuel and we can turn it into ammonia.

And the good thing about spare heat is that we can make chilled water using absorption chillers ... just like the old kero fridge that my mum had in regional Australia in the 1930s before the electricity grid was connected! - Dr Neil Thompson

Dr Thompson identified many industries which can benefit from Hydrogen production with agriculture being near the top of the list.

And with on-farm revenues reduced due to the current drought, he noted the renewables are an ideal source of passive income for landholders.

Weve got all the energy sources we need on farm, he said.

Solar, wind, we also have organics and we waste most of our organics so bio-gas is part of the solution as well and we have lots of inorganic materials.

All of which, according to Dr Thompson adds up to amazing good fortune for those who want to be involved and for the country as a whole.

One of the nicest things about Hydrogen is that you can actually take Hydrogen to a farm and run it through a fuel cell and create electricity and hot water, he said.

And guess what the by-product is potable water.

It is obviously not a bad solution to many problems, but Dr Thompson pointed out the use of Hydrogen does not replace the use of batteries as a source of mobility.

Electricity will replace petrol and the replacement for diesel is Hydrogen so the two work together, he said.

Hydrogen does the heavy lifting, while electricity is great for around town in light vehicles.

Nevertheless, one of the exciting things that can be done through using Hydrogen on farm is the replacement of grid electricity and replace the fuel used in heavy vehicles.

We can also run it through a turbine or a fuel cell to process electricity, hot water and spare heat, e said.

And the good thing about spare heat is that we can make chilled water using absorption chillers ... just like the old kero fridge that my mum had in regional Australia in the 1930s before the electricity grid was connected!

We can be self-sufficient in energy generation.

There are many opportunities to have a look at this technology without a lot of risk upfront, by utilizing the energy, water, waste and transport usage on farm.

We can start to sell the ability to turn the electrolyser on or off back to the market and that is certainly worth a lot of money in the right area, Dr Thompson said.

It is an exciting outcome as source for new farm revenues.

The story Hydrogen opens opportunities for the bush first appeared on The Land.

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