The City of Perth has stepped on the gas in the race to make the CBD greener with the announcement it will house Western Australia’s first public hydrogen refuelling station.

The sustainable servo will be built on city-owned land on Thomas Street, West Perth, subject to approvals and a final investment decision.

The proposed hydrogen refuelling station is part of agreement between the city and Frontier Energy, a Perth-based company aiming to make their operation in the South West one of the first commercially viable hydrogen plants in Australia.

“This is an important step forward,” Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas declared, using Thursday’s lunchtime forum at the Pan Pacific hotel centred on building sustainable cities to spruik his latest green initiative.

“We know that hydrogen vehicles are available. Toyota, Hyundai and other manufacturers are producing them, but they can’t sell them until the customers can fill them up and drive them.”

Frontier Energy managing director Sam Lee Mohan said hydrogen was a proven technology that provided carbon emission-free road transport and offered quick and efficient refuelling, similar to a normal petrol station.

“As the refuelling station becomes a reality, vehicle manufacturers are poised to introduce their hydrogen fuel vehicles into the Western Australian market, igniting the momentum for renewable hydrogen interest,” Mohan said.

While the refuelling station was warmly applauded was it was the presentation by Jesper Frost Rasmussen, mayor of the Danish coastal town of Esbjerg, that electrified the gathering of power players and civic leaders.

Rasmussen is one of the delegates at the City of Perth-hosted annual meeting of the World Energy Cities Partnership, an organisation that brings together energy-producing hubs from around the world.

Even though Denmark has considerable oil and gas reserves in its North Sea fields, it is committed to weaning off fossil fuels by 2050, with much of the country’s energy produced by wind turbines dotted along the coast and out in the Baltic Sea.

“On windy days 100 per cent of [Denmark’s power needs] are produced by renewables,” Rasmussen told the audience.

“And then we have connectivity to Norway to Sweden to Germany, selling them energy and buying from them when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. That’s how we do it in Europe.”

Rasmussen said Denmark planned to install 10,000 wind turbines and make the country a renewable energy powerhouse.

He described an array of renewable energy sources, such as a seawater-based heat pump and green hydrogen, that painted a picture of an economy and a society deeply committed to a future in which their energy use is entirely sustainable.

While Rasmussen dazzled the audience with his vision of a renewable-fuelled future, the short film which he played to accompany his keynote address trumpeted the expansion of Denmark’s gas fields.

“Esbjerg leads the global energy transition as a member of the World Energy Cities partnership,” intoned the short video’s narrator.

“We aim to build more resilient and sustainable cities. In the vast North Sea near Esbjerg lays Tyra, the nation’s largest natural gas field.

“After its reconstruction it is expected to deliver a staggering 2.8 billion cubic meters of gas annually, accounting for 80 per cent of Denmark’s gas production.”

The mixed messaging from the Danes left Greens MLA Brad Pettitt steaming.

“I don’t want to be too negative about the forum because clearly there’s a recognition that transition is coming,” Pettitt told this masthead during a post-lunch debrief.

“However, you got a real sense from the panelist that gas is what is needed to transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

“This is not the case any more. What you need is more renewables and more batteries.

“All these countries and all these cities want to be the last place that gets the last bit of gas out of the earth.

“We’ve got a budget now for fossil fuels. It’s pretty small and everyone wants it to be their gas or their coal as part of that fossil fuel budget. But we have 10 times that amount currently on people’s books.

“This is a real challenge. Everyone’s trying to make it their gas that gets used. But we simply cannot have all that gas being burned and have a liveable planet.”

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