Zero-emissions hydrogen will be made available for fuel-cell trucks, buses and cars across New South Wales for the first time next year under a landmark deal between Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers and gas giant Jemena.

Jemena plans to supply Wesfarmers-owned Coregas with hydrogen generated from its $15 million Western Sydney Green Gas Project, which manufactures hydrogen using a process powered by renewable energy that ensures the final product is emissions-free “green” hydrogen, the companies said.

Hydrogen, which burns cleanly and emits only water, is touted as an important growth technology as the transition to cleaner energy gathers pace due to its potential to decarbonise parts of the economy that cannot be easily electrified, such as a range of industrial processes and heavy transport. However, hydrogen’s use in vehicles in NSW is presently limited to “grey hydrogen”, which is made from coal or gas via a process that emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“We know that green hydrogen has the immediate potential to become a viable zero-emission alternative to many petroleum-based fossil fuels currently used by industries such as transport and remote power generation,” Jemena renewable gas managing director Gabrielle Sycamore said.

Hydrogen fuel cells are particularly well-suited to long-distance heavy haulage trucking requirements based on their comparatively lightweight and fast refuelling times which can be just a matter of minutes.”

Coregas has recently ordered Australia’s first two hydrogen-powered heavy trucks to become part of its fleet. The company said it was looking to further support the development of more heavy fuel-cell electric vehicles by supplying more hydrogen to the market.

While there is little doubt that fossil fuel-guzzling vehicles will be increasingly shunned by consumers and even banned in some jurisdictions, fuel-cell vehicles that use hydrogen have been overshadowed by the vastly greater and ever-increasing mainstream success of electric battery-powered cars like Teslas. Hydrogen vehicles account for less than 0.1 per cent of vehicles produced each year.

Still, supporters of the technology say hydrogen cars boast advantages over electric cars, including longer range and quicker refuelling times, and believe they could gain ground as more refuelling infrastructure becomes available. China, Japan and South Korea have been setting ambitious targets to put millions of hydrogen-powered vehicles on their roads by the end of the next decade, investing heavily in refuelling stations.

Jemena’s Western Sydney Green Gas Project, co-funded by the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is also creating hydrogen gas that can be blended and stored in Jemena’s gas distribution network to supply homes and businesses for heating and cooking.

The Morrison government is planning for Australia to ­become a leading global hydrogen exporter by 2030 after securing approval of state and federal ministers for a $370 million Clean Energy Finance Corporation fund for new hydrogen projects. However, significant barriers to green hydrogen’s future as an energy source remain, the biggest being the prohibitively high cost of the technology to produce it compared with hydrogen made from fossil fuels.

Extracted in full from: Wesfarmers, Jemena seal deal to supply ‘green’ hydrogen for transport (