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Renewable gas is a term used to describe gases that do not produce any additional emissions when you produce and use them.

Like natural gas, renewable gases are great carriers of energy, easily stored and can be supplied via the existing gas network. Two of the most common forms of renewable gas are:

  • Renewable hydrogen – which does not contain any carbon and can be produced using renewable electricity.
  • Biomethane – which is carbon neutral, it harnesses the energy potential from organic materials such as agricultural waste and sewage, supporting the circular economy.

By blending and ultimately replacing natural gas with renewable gas we can use our existing infrastructure to supply renewable gas to our customers.

This is important because today Australia’s energy system relies on diverse sources of energy – natural gas and liquid fuels (petrol and diesel) are used for more than double the energy provided by electricity. As we move towards net zero emissions, maintaining diverse sources of energy can help with energy security, reliability and affordability.

Modelling indicates that decarbonising natural gas through renewable hydrogen can be up to 50% cheaper than electrification as it avoids significant investment in additional electricity infrastructure such as poles, wires and additional batteries. It also means customers retain their choice of energy supply, and those industries relying on gas can continue to access it.

We are already supplying renewable hydrogen blended gas to our customers. Mitchell Park in South Australia proudly became Australia’s first recipients of renewable blended gas in May 2021; and works are underway to supply the entire city of Gladstone, Queensland in the latter half of 2022.

 

About hydrogen

Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant molecule in the universe. Like natural gas, hydrogen is colourless and odourless in its normal state, it is also a great carrier of energy.

Hydrogen can be used much like natural gas to heat homes, power vehicles and produce electricity, but importantly when burned, it produces only water vapour and energy as heat, with no carbon emissions.

How is renewable hydrogen made?

Hydrogen is naturally occurring but is usually found attached to other elements – for example with oxygen as water (H2O) or with carbon as natural gas (CH4). Therefore, to use hydrogen, we must separate it from these other elements.

There are a number of ways to produce hydrogen. A common way – and the way we are producing it – is to use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity, a process known as electrolysis.

The electrolysis process separates the hydrogen and oxygen which are then reformed back into water vapour when you burn it, releasing energy as heat. Electrolysers can act as flexible demand that can be paired with intermittent wind and solar to take advantage of excess renewable generation, this means that we can use renewable electricity more efficiently.

Watch an explainer video on how we are producing hydrogen at Hydrogen Park South Australia.

The electrolysis process

 

Has hydrogen been used before in Australia?

Hydrogen is used around the world today, including by industry throughout Australia.

From the 1860’s through to the 1990s depending on the region, Australian cities relied upon Towns Gas to meet gas demand. Towns Gas was gas manufactured from coal and consisted of 50-60% hydrogen.

We stopped using Town’s Gas when natural gas was discovered as it was considered more reliable and economic. Today we know that blended renewable gas is the first step on our journey to lowering carbon emissions and that the cost of producing hydrogen is decreasing.

 

Using hydrogen and natural gas safely

We are experts in developing and operating gas infrastructure safely and reliably. Our commitment to safety underpins everything we do, and we must be satisfied that our renewable gas projects are safe before first production.

Hydrogen, like other fuels, is flammable and this is a key reason it can provide us with energy. It also means we need to treat hydrogen and blended gas with respect, as we do natural gas, electricity, petrol and other energy carriers.

Blending renewable hydrogen at the levels we are targeting won’t change the approach to safety that is currently in place. The blended renewable gas will still retain the distinctive natural gas smell that allows you to detect any leak.

You should continue to follow the same safety principles you do with your natural gas supply, ensuring you appliances are installed correctly and maintained. Importantly, if you ever smell gas or think there is a leak, you should report it.

If you have questions about safety that haven't been answered here, please read our FAQs or contact us.

Contact us

Need to get in touch? You can contact us to find out more about our projects or register for updates using the below details.

Phone

1300 001 001 and press option 8

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