Blue Economy CRC Announces Acquisition of Key R&D Infrastructure to Develop Offshore Hydrogen Microgrid

The Blue Economy CRC together with Optimal Group, Macquarie Group and University of Tasmania is acquiring key R&D infrastructure to develop an offshore hydrogen microgrid to be located in Tasmania’s North.

The new infrastructure consists of a new generation 700kW electrolyser manufactured by United Kingdom-headquartered ITM Power, a microturbine and a microgrid developed by Optimal Group which will form the foundation of an offshore hydrogen microgrid.

As Craig Dugan, Chief Executive Officer from Optimal Group states:

“This is a project of many firsts. It will be the largest hydrogen electrolyser in Tasmania and amongst the largest in Australia. The first hydrogen Capstone microturbine to be deployed in Tasmania and only the second in Australia and indeed worldwide. On the current research program schedule, it should be the first hydrogen microgrid to be installed offshore.”

“Optimal is delighted to be a part of the ground-breaking Blue Economy CRC research program and to selected to provide these key components.”

The Blue Economy CRC seeks to deliver the demonstration of an offshore/high energy renewable energy system, encompassing offshore renewable energy conversion technologies, a microgrid with integrated storage (hydrogen) and demand-led control system, to meet an off-grid, offshore demand. Offshore aquaculture presents a potential pathway market, whereby these technologies can demonstrate their value, as they progress through to broad market competitiveness.

Hydrogen has the potential to be an effective way to store and export clean firmed energy to offshore sites beyond the reach of subsea power cables. Additionally, hydrogen can provide a very high reliability of electricity supply within an islanded microgrid and can displace diesel and other fossil fuels in aquaculture and vessels. Additionally, the oxygen produced along with hydrogen provides an added benefit to aquaculture.

“This is an exciting project that will advance the cause of hydrogen energy in Australia and provide a reference point for industries looking to deploy renewable energy systems, both offshore and off the grid generally.”

“The latest DC microgrid technology will be employed, and once operational the hydrogen microgrid will provide data of great value to support many research projects investigating hydrogen production, storage, distribution and end use.” Professor Evan Gray, Deputy Program Leader, Offshore Renewable Energy Systems (ORES) Program.

The development of the offshore hydrogen microgrid builds upon the R&D currently underway in the Blue Economy CRC including: Hydrogen storage and distribution; Offshore/high energy sustainable hybrid power systems and DC microgrids for offshore applications.

Further R&D will include the marinisation of the systems for offshore use over time as well as providing a valuable tool for training in hydrogen storage and power systems.

The construction of the microgrid will take approximately one year with the final infrastructure anticipated to be co-located with the University of Tasmania in the State’s North West.

“The University of Tasmania is excited to work with the Blue Economy CRC to develop a research and teaching platform to support emerging hydrogen energy systems. Being located at the University of Tasmania in Burnie is part of our commitment to delivering on our regionally networked model across Tasmania. Furthermore, it provides a unique opportunity to incorporate this advanced technology in our teaching programs to better prepare our students for future workforce needs. It will be a platform for industry-partnered research programs to deliver on a knowledge-led transformation across Tasmania, and from here make a global contribution”. Professor Anthony Koutoulis, Deputy Vice Chancellor Research UTAS.

“Macquarie is pleased to finance this key offshore R&D infrastructure, which we see as part of our broader commitment to invest in clean energy solutions which support the global energy transition.” Ben Glover, Executive Director, Macquarie Sustainability and Waste, Specialised Asset & Finance Division.

For more information:

Professor Evan Gray, Griffith University
Deputy Program Leader, Offshore Renewable Energy Systems
(m) 0419 751 747

Professor Irene Penesis, Research Director
Blue Economy CRC
(m) 0407 155 584

Ben Glover, Executive Director
Macquarie Sustainability and Waste
Specialised Asset & Finance Division
(m) 0438 437 927

Luca Febbraio, Associate Director
Macquarie Energy, Renewable and Sustainability
Specialised Asset & Finance Division
(m) 0439 163 121