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Big Plans in Australia

 
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Mark



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:58 pm    Post subject: Big Plans in Australia Reply with quote

On the solar panel’s back - our next big export ?
https://arena.gov.au/blog/renewableexport/

Australia has been an energy-exporting superpower for decades, shipping massive quantities of coal and, more recently, gas around the world. It’s what we do. But as Australia faces the challenge to move away from fossil fuels, do we also have to give up our energy export status?

Not necessarily. Here is an exciting thought: Australia has the potential to be one of the largest generators and exporters of renewable energy in the world. We could be a renewable energy superpower. Our capacity to generate wind, solar, wave and tide power is huge: Beyond Zero Emissions has estimated that Australia’s “economically demonstrated solar and wind energy resources are … over 5000 exajoules.” That’s 75 per cent greater than Australia’s coal, gas, oil and uranium resources combined. And it’s likely to be in demand. There is already great interest elsewhere in the world in imported renewable power, particularly in countries such as Japan and South Korea that have high energy use, high population density and low potential for generation. In Japan, the move away from nuclear after the Fukushima disaster, combined with pressure not to shift that burden entirely to fossil fuels, has created an economy that could be a significant importer of exported Australian renewables. Our existing trading relationship with Japan would likely assist with building a new industry.

Mostly, it all depends on one simple molecule. “Hydrogen is the energy of the future,” according to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who believes there could be a market of one trillion yen annually from the hydrogen economy by 2030. If this all sounds exciting it’s a reaction ARENA shares. The agency has signalled its strong interest in investigating a renewables export industry by making it one of ARENA’s four priorities, newly established to guide future funding investments. A strong export industry would have the benefit of underwriting renewables production for domestic use which, if managed well, could bring costs down for local consumers. Oliver Yates, the former CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has talked about the hundreds of gigawatts of potential generation in Australia that could be realised if we had an export industry. This isn’t science fiction. Australia is well placed to capitalise on a future export hydrogen market.

HOW IT MIGHT WORK
Exporting renewable energy via hydrogen could potentially fill the niche currently held by LNG but there are challenges associated with this. Hydrogen is not very dense and so needs to be shipped and stored at very high pressures (more on that later). Hydrogen would be produced by purifying water, then separating the hydrogen and oxygen in the water via electrolysis (applying an electric current). For the energy being exported to be renewable, the process of separation would most likely be powered by solar or wind energy, or by emerging options such as tidal energy. The hydrogen acts as a vehicle for storing that energy. It could be used locally, particularly to power vehicles or via fuel cells that can provide stationary electricity in off-grid locations. But for export it needs to be converted into transportable forms, with ammonia looking the most promising. Hydrogen is already used to make ammonia, which is an important ingredient of industrial fertiliser and is one of the world’s most commonly-traded chemical commodities. Making that hydrogen with renewables would significantly reduce the emissions in that existing supply chain. But as well as being an end product, ammonia can be a transport material for hydrogen. Ammonia can carry a much higher hydrogen density than liquid hydrogen can. It’s the most likely way Australian renewable energy would be shipped for export. Another possibility for exporting renewables might be synthetic natural gas, which could be produced by gasification of agricultural residues – effectively waste products from farming, forestry or other industries – and conversion of this into methane.

WE’RE NOT THERE YET
The problem is separating the hydrogen from the ammonia at its destination so the hydrogen can be used for power, but CSIRO has already made significant advances in this field. Existing port infrastructure, such as that used for LNG export, could be repurposed to handle future ammonia exports. The costs of both renewable generation and electrolysis are falling and there is proven demand for imported hydrogen, particularly in South Korea and Japan. The South Korean government has announced it is aiming for 9,000 hydrogen cars on its roads by 2020, and as many as 630,000 by 2030. The target for refuelling stations is 520 by 2030. Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan is even more comprehensive. There are already plans for cars and a refuelling network, and for hydrogen ships, forklifts and garbage trucks. But there are also ambitions for hydrogen fuel cells in homes, and for hydrogen to be used in power plant generation and industrial processes as a feedstock for production of chemicals, electronics, glass and metals. Japan began its hydrogen push with a focus on fossil fuels for production, but the country wants its hydrogen to be 100 per cent renewable-produced by 2040. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is intended to showcase Japan’s shift to hydrogen from nuclear. Japan’s scientists are working on low-cost electrolysis and on methods to synthesise ammonia from hydrogen at room temperature and room pressure, reducing the energy required. While Japan and South Korea are most likely to be markets for Australian export hydrogen, there are other overseas developments that could help boost a future Australian industry. Germany, for example, is looking to expand its renewables generation, using hydrogen for storage. Its research into more efficient electrolysis could produce new methodologies and significantly reduce costs.

OTHER OPTIONS FOR EXPORT
While replacements for fossil fuel-generated stationary energy, and energy for land transport, are well advanced, the world’s aviation and shipping industries are struggling to find an alternative to liquid fuel. There is potential for Australia to produce and export biofuels to fill some of this demand and ARENA is involved in pursuing some of those possibilities. Sugar producers in Australia have been investigating hydrothermal liquefaction of sugarcane waste, or bagasse, to produce biodiesel. In Western Australia, mallee eucalypts are being grown on marginal land and converted to biofuel. By returning biochar from the refining process to the soil, this biorefinery creates an exportable fuel that has negative emissions. Investigations are also continuing into production of biofuel from algae, though there have been significant technical challenges.
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johnhemming2



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

5000 EJ or 5 ZJ, but over what period (if renewable it has to recur).

Ignoring for the moment the finite lifetime of the Sun in its current state.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nothing actually impossible in the proposal, but the economics look doubtful.
Renewable electricity into hydrogen into ammonia to be shipped half way round the world, and then hoping that it can compete with locally produced natural gas or with local renewable electricity.

Before considering such fanciful schemes, Australia might do better to use more renewables and less coal to produce electricity for local use.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought that I had read somewhere that fuel cells can run directly on ammonia. That would make the system a bit more efficient.

The idea of Australia, a country notoriously deficient in fertility, exporting some of its fertility in the form of methane seems ridiculous to me. But then when finance is involved the ridiculous becomes advantageous!
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adam2
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have moved from here an unrelated post about producing solar electricity in Africa and sending it to Europe.
It may be found here, together with replies.
http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?p=286758#286758
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BritDownUnder



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal - lagger wrote:
I thought that I had read somewhere that fuel cells can run directly on ammonia. That would make the system a bit more efficient.

The idea of Australia, a country notoriously deficient in fertility, exporting some of its fertility in the form of methane seems ridiculous to me. But then when finance is involved the ridiculous becomes advantageous!


I don't think the methane or ammonia planned to be exported is plant derived. Must be synthetic, I.e. From electrolysed water to get the hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen (for the ammonia) or carbon dioxide for the methane. I think to extract CO2 from the atmosphere would be very energy consuming. However sunlight and fresh water are relatively plentiful in Australia given the low population. The main problem is the water is generally where the poor soils are and people aren't.

There has also been a plan to export 3 GW of solar electricity to Indonesia via HVDC undersea cable talked about in the papers recently.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BritDownUnder wrote:
There has also been a plan to export 3 GW of solar electricity to Indonesia via HVDC undersea cable talked about in the papers recently.


Right, that was why I thought about the Africa/Europe connection (now moved to another thread). I couldn't think how far the nearest landfall from Australia might be, whether a DC cable would be feasible. Sounds like it might be, after turning infertile areas of Australia into solar farms.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BritDownUnder wrote:
kenneal - lagger wrote:
I thought that I had read somewhere that fuel cells can run directly on ammonia. That would make the system a bit more efficient.

The idea of Australia, a country notoriously deficient in fertility, exporting some of its fertility in the form of methane seems ridiculous to me. But then when finance is involved the ridiculous becomes advantageous!


I don't think the methane or ammonia planned to be exported is plant derived. Must be synthetic, I.e. From electrolysed water to get the hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen (for the ammonia) or carbon dioxide for the methane. I think to extract CO2 from the atmosphere would be very energy consuming. However sunlight and fresh water are relatively plentiful in Australia given the low population. The main problem is the water is generally where the poor soils are and people aren't. .....


from OP wrote:
Another possibility for exporting renewables might be synthetic natural gas, which could be produced by gasification of agricultural residues – effectively waste products from farming, forestry or other industries – and conversion of this into methane.


Carbon from agricultural and other residues - not a good idea for Australia or any other country for that matter given upcoming food shortages.

Meanwhile, according to the AYCC (aycc.org.au), the Turnbull government is trying to bully a coal fired electricity plant operator to extend the life of an old plant after 2020 and they're also trying to remove any remaining renewables energy targets to prop up Australia's ailing coal industry.
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BritDownUnder



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal - lagger wrote:
BritDownUnder wrote:
kenneal - lagger wrote:
I thought that I had read somewhere that fuel cells can run directly on ammonia. That would make the system a bit more efficient.

The idea of Australia, a country notoriously deficient in fertility, exporting some of its fertility in the form of methane seems ridiculous to me. But then when finance is involved the ridiculous becomes advantageous!


I don't think the methane or ammonia planned to be exported is plant derived. Must be synthetic, I.e. From electrolysed water to get the hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen (for the ammonia) or carbon dioxide for the methane. I think to extract CO2 from the atmosphere would be very energy consuming. However sunlight and fresh water are relatively plentiful in Australia given the low population. The main problem is the water is generally where the poor soils are and people aren't. .....


from OP wrote:
Another possibility for exporting renewables might be synthetic natural gas, which could be produced by gasification of agricultural residues – effectively waste products from farming, forestry or other industries – and conversion of this into methane.


Carbon from agricultural and other residues - not a good idea for Australia or any other country for that matter given upcoming food shortages.


Yes I need to read the OP a bit more carefully.

When i see people burning bushland in Australia I often wonder if the biomass could be burnt centrally to generate power but think it would be too much trouble to collect.

I do know that sugar mills burn the waste (bagasse) to generate power and often quite a lot of power but the mill uses most of it. Where the problems will arise is when prime land is used to produce fuel when previously if produced food.

There are a couple of other sources of the carbon. All that coal that it is become increasingly unfashionable to burn could be used together with hydrogen from electrolysis of water to produce methane or even higher hydrocarbons. Australia likes to fashion itself as a reliable exporter of energy to the world (or whoever pays the politicians the most money will do).

I saw some information on the energy value of Australian energy exports and with the exception of liquid fuels they are all net exports for Australia (i.e. uranium, LNG and coal). I could see Australia would want to export liquid fuels too if they could. Interesting to note that by energy value, liquid fuels are about five times as expensive per unit of energy than either natural gas or coal.

If the carbon source is extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere is possible I would have no objection to this happening. I have heard that the US Navy is trying to do this to synthesise jet fuel on aircraft carriers to avoid having to ship them to the carrier.

kenneal - lagger wrote:
Meanwhile, according to the AYCC (aycc.org.au), the Turnbull government is trying to bully a coal fired electricity plant operator to extend the life of an old plant after 2020 and they're also trying to remove any remaining renewables energy targets to prop up Australia's ailing coal industry.


That would be Liddell Power Station. British designed and engineered in the early 1970s. It is thought to be on it's last legs and would be very surprising if it could be extended beyond 2022.
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Last edited by BritDownUnder on Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BritDownUnder wrote:
.......There are a couple of other sources of the carbon. All that coal that it is become increasingly unfashionable to burn could be used together with hydrogen from electrolysis of water to produce methane or even higher hydrocarbons. Australia likes to fashion itself as a reliable exporter of energy to the world (or whoever pays the politicians the most money will do)..........


That is just a back door method of burning fossil carbon and is probably even worse as it wastes renewable power to produce the hydrogen.

Quote:
If the carbon source is extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere is possible I would have no objection to this happening. I have heard that the US Navy is trying to do this to synthesise jet fuel on aircraft carriers to avoid having to ship them to the carrier.


I suppose that they would use some of the nuclear power from the carrier to do this.
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BritDownUnder



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal - lagger wrote:
BritDownUnder wrote:
.......There are a couple of other sources of the carbon. All that coal that it is become increasingly unfashionable to burn could be used together with hydrogen from electrolysis of water to produce methane or even higher hydrocarbons. Australia likes to fashion itself as a reliable exporter of energy to the world (or whoever pays the politicians the most money will do)..........


That is just a back door method of burning fossil carbon and is probably even worse as it wastes renewable power to produce the hydrogen.

Quote:
If the carbon source is extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere is possible I would have no objection to this happening. I have heard that the US Navy is trying to do this to synthesise jet fuel on aircraft carriers to avoid having to ship them to the carrier.


I suppose that they would use some of the nuclear power from the carrier to do this.


Correct about the backdoor fossil carbon and the nuclear power. Where there's a need people will start to resort to producing liquid fuels from constituent elements by endothermic reactions using energy from renewables.

If, and it's a big if, there is enough renewable energy to do this I could see this happening in Australia. Basically you are pushing the stone back up the energy hill. From what I can find on the net one tonne of oil (7 barrels) costs about $350 and a tonne and a half of coal (same energy as 7 barrels of oil) costs about $100. If you can get the hydrogen cheap enough by electrolysis from renewable energy sources then someone will try to make money out of it.
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