MELBOURNE, March 12 (Reuters) – A Japan-Australia venture has started producing hydrogen from brown coal in a $ 500 million ($ 387 million) test project aimed at demonstrating liquid hydrogen can be produced and exported safely to Japan, sponsors said. project on Friday.
Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries is running a pilot project with government financial support from Japan and Australia in the state of Victoria, home to a quarter of the world’s brown coal reserves.
This project is key to helping Japan meet its net carbon emissions target by 2050. The world’s fifth largest energy consumer aims to increase its annual hydrogen demand tenfold to 20 million tonnes by 2050, equivalent to about 40% of its current power generation. . .
At the same time, Australia is pushing to become a major hydrogen exporter, ultimately competing with its dominance in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade, potentially providing it with a greener market for its coal and gas.
Brown coal is considered the lowest-ranking coal due to its relatively low energy content and has long fueled some of Australia’s dirtiest power stations, some of which have closed or are scheduled to close.
The project produces hydrogen by reacting coal with oxygen and steam under high heat and pressure in a process that also produces carbon dioxide and other gases.
If the project is commercial, the plan is to bury carbon dioxide off the coast of Victoria, KHI previously said. The Australian and Victorian state governments are running a parallel project to test the transport and injection of carbon dioxide under the ocean floor.
The hydrogen produced in the pilot project will be transported to the port location where it will be liquefied for export.
The next big step is to deliver cargo on the world’s first liquid hydrogen carrier, built by KHI. Voyages have been delayed until mid-year, due to COVID-19 restrictions that slowed final checks on tankers.
“The eyes of the world will be on Victoria when liquid hydrogen deliveries begin in mid-2021,” said Hirofumi Kawazoe, of KHI’s Australian Hydrogen Engineering unit, in a statement.
Partners on the Australian side of the project include Japan’s Electric Power Development Co (J-Power), Iwatani Corp, Marubeni Corp, Sumitomo Corp and Australia’s AGL Energy Ltd, whose mines supply brown coal. ($ 1 = Australian dollar 1.2922) (Report by Sonali Paul; editing by Richard Pullin)