The Western Sydney Green Hydrogen Hub (project) is Australia’s most comprehensive power-to-gas project, which sources renewable electricity and water to convert it into hydrogen via electrolysis. This living laboratory will showcase for the first time bi-directional interconnectivity between electricity and gas systems and Australia’s first renewable gas pipeline. The Project provides a pathway to meet the NSW Government’s aspiration to reach 10% hydrogen in the gas network by 2030. We’ll blend green hydrogen into the existing network making renewable gas available to our customers. It will also test how we develop
The Project was considered an important stepping stone to support the decarbonisation of Australia’s energy market by demonstrating a long term storage solution for intermittent renewable energy, both within the gas distribution networks as well as conversion to a clean fuel for hydrogen vehicles.
JGN delivers approximately 95PJ (26TWh) per year and delivers a reliable peak capacity of over 20TJ/hr (5.6GW), typically on a winter’s evening outside of solar production. The successful demonstration of hydrogen storage in existing infrastructure can hence compliment and support future investment in renewable investments.
The Use of Best Practice
The development, demonstration and the seamless integration of the renewable hydrogen facility into a complex asset like Jemena’s Gas Network represents a significant achievement made possible by the thorough application of Jemena’s ISO 55,001 accredited Asset Management System (AMS).
Jemena’s innovative approach to enable, understand and promote the capability of renewable gases in gas networks will enhance the future value not just the NSW gas network but other gas assets across Australia and provide a viable and effective solution to enable an Australian pathway to decarbonisation.
The blending of renewable hydrogen into an existing operating gas network is in its early stages of development around the world and the safety and integrity of current assets need to be understood prior to large scale deployment. The Jemena Gas Network is Australia’s largest and one of the fastest growing gas distribution networks. We own and manage the 25,000 km of pipelines that distribute natural gas to almost 1.5 million homes and businesses across New South Wales (NSW) and we want to ensure that providing renewable gas options to our customers will not impact on the existing safety and reliability performance and long term asset integrity.
Upholding the best practice asset management principles included focusing on the complete asset life-cycle of the existing gas infrastructure and potential impacts related to operation and maintenance from large scale hydrogen blending. This was a key focus of the project and with the facility operating Jemena is continually trialling and interpreting the results of the application of hydrogen within the gas pipelines to ensure a detailed understanding of potential impacts to asset management programs across the gas network.
The project team also ensured that the delivery of one of Australia’s first green hydrogen facility was successfully and seamlessly integrated into business as usual (BAU) natural gas business through the thorough application of the Jemena’s AMS which drove the systemic review of new risks and highlighted gaps in existing control systems, training and safety management systems. An operations led integration team ensured all new equipment and practices were incorporated into existing operational documentation, specialist training and operator accreditations.
The project’s primary objective was to understand the application of renewable hydrogen within the gas network and the role it will play in the future renewable energy landscape. This included identifying and determining solutions to managing the technical, regulatory, environmental, social and economic barriers to hydrogen being used in the gas network for large-scale renewable energy storage, distribution and decarbonisation.
These solutions and challenges would be critical in understanding the impact to the future management of key gas network assets through future decarbonisation.
figure 5 – Completed facility
In an attempt to demonstrate the integrated future energy landscape and to maximise the project learnings the scope included the following:
- an Australian first, controlled direct blending into the existing natural gas distribution network at up to 2% by volume to over 23,500 residential customers, over 100 commercial customers and 7 industrial customers, with the option to incrementally increase the percentage of hydrogen over time;
- an Australian first construction of a 320 metre purpose built 100% renewable hydrogen storage pipeline – storing ~110kg of hydrogen (~4MWh of energy storage). The pipeline constructed using the same material composition as the local network, thereby giving us insight into understanding future potential of full decarbonisation with 100% hydrogen within existing gas network assets;
- research and development for trialling compositions of natural gas and hydrogen blends, critical in determining the capabilities of existing natural gas appliances, in order to assess potential downstream impacts of hydrogen within the network;
- a world first application of hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen microturbine to generate power for export to the grid, demonstrating the interconnectivity of future energy networks; and
- provisions for refilling of transportable hydrogen cylinders for off-site use of green hydrogen for transport in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
The application of these systems will be critical to demonstrating the value of hydrogen within the future renewable energy system as a key diversification and decarbonisation opportunity. In particular, utilising existing pipeline and network assets as a cost effective solution to energy storage, that will complement intermittent renewable generation.
The project was a constant evolution, with the team leveraging and integrating emerging applications of hydrogen to maximise innovation opportunities. It has set the precedence for the successful trial of future energy systems for the gas and electricity networks. The sector coupling opportunities has attracted interest from a range of stakeholders playing a key role in Australia’s decarbonisation goals.
Project Delivery Team
The project was initiated within the business as usual (BAU) AMS processes in March 2017 with front-end engineering design (FEED) completed between 2017 and mid-2018 while working towards the financial investment decision from the Jemena Board. The Board approved the budgeted capital of $14.7M, which was supplemented by securing ARENA co-funding.
Following Board and ARENA funding, the project was transferred to the Gas Projects delivery team in accordance with the Jemena project governance framework. The framework consists of a set of policies, processes, procedures, structures and responsibilities that control and manage projects to facilitate the delivery of outcomes that support business objectives and integration in line with Jemena’s AMS.
In recent years learnings from previous integrations of new technologies and assets demonstrated the criticality of an effective integration approach through a coordinated partnership with relevant stakeholders. These lessons learned were incorporated into the projects Integration Management Plan, which provided the foundation to leverage Jemena’s AMS for the successful integration of this novel facility into BAU operations.
The project team worked with key stakeholders to develop a dedicated integration working group, including the group in key decision making activities around engineering, design, construction and commissioning activities. The integration working group was separated into dedicated streams with leaders selected from each group. The key groups were:
- Asset Management
- Monitoring and Control
- Operations and Maintenance
- Test Program and Stakeholder Management (including customer and consumer consultation)
This process streamlined key integration activities, and allowed oversight and identification of risks and issues within work streams, which could be targeted and addressed through regular meetings. The approach was effective and successful in maintaining the performance of the integration team.
It is important to highlight the significance of the integration of a new asset, which in particular involved the development of new processes and procedures divergent from BAU. The project was seen as an opportunity to expand internal capabilities and upskill the workforce in renewable gases. This meant integration had to have a key focus on maximising the benefits of safety and training as part of the ongoing operation and maintenance of the facility.
Program and Project Management
Safety systems for natural gas exist within Jemena and is standard BAU for operations and maintenance, however, hydrogen acts differently. It is unodourised, its flame is invisible to the naked eye and can leak more readily. Therefore, safety and training was key to the successful integration into operations and maintenance.
The project team, working alongside the training workstream lead, developed new safety systems and training modules from the ground up including a hydrogen 101 training program and hydrogen authority permit system. This was to ensure visitors attending the facility understand the way hydrogen interacts with the environment.
The new permitting system ensures maintenance tasks can be completed safely by personnel experienced and trained in hydrogen. This system implementation also ensures Jemena has operations and maintenance personnel trained for future renewable hydrogen in the network – a critical capability given the rapidly changing energy landscape.
The successful completion of NSW’s first electrolyser and Australia’s most comprehensive hydrogen demonstration is a significant milestone for our energy industry.
The application and integration of novel technologies presented ongoing challenges across procurement, engineering and design, through to construction, integration and operations. Overcoming these challenges has allowed Jemena to take key lessons learned and improve processes for project delivery into integration, operation and maintenance optimising the asset lifecycle management.
Another project benefit was the establishment of frameworks that facilitate the development of future hydrogen projects across Australia. The complete absence of technical and commercial regulatory frameworks for the blending and distribution of hydrogen required an extensive stakeholder engagement program to obtain the appropriate approvals and social licence to enable innovation. Jemena has worked with industry to continue the development of these frameworks through the success of the project.
Jemena will continue to learn from the project which will feed into its asset management procedures associated with managing future gas network assets with renewable hydrogen.