'On track for zero net emissions': hydrogen gas test facility opens in Canberra

The ACT government says it's on track to achieve its target of zero net emissions by 2045, as a test facility for hydrogen gas opens in Fyshwick.

On Tuesday, Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury cooked sausages on a hydrogen-powered barbecue at the Canberra Institute of Technology Fyshwick campus.

From left: Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury, Energy Networks Australia's Andrew Dillon, and Evoenergy gas networks manager William Yeap at the opening of a hydrogen gas test facility.  Photo: Jamila Toderas

From left: Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury, Energy Networks Australia's Andrew Dillon, and Evoenergy gas networks manager William Yeap at the opening of a hydrogen gas test facility. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The test facility is a partnership between Evoenergy and the Canberra Institute of Technology. Evoenergy, which owns and operates the ACT gas network, will test hydrogen's compatibility with existing materials, equipment and work practices, potentially allowing it to be used in the existing gas distribution network in the future.

Mr Rattenbury said renewable hydrogen gas could have potential as a zero-emissions replacement for natural gas.

"In response to climate change, we need to phase out the use of natural gas, which is a highly polluting fossil fuel," Mr Rattenbury said.

"Hydrogen can be a renewable, zero-emissions gas source and we want to understand whether, and how, it can be viably used to decarbonise the gas network."

Hydrogen gas is produced from renewable sources such as excess electricity from wind and solar farming.

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury cooked sausages on a hydrogen-powered barbecue at the Canberra Institute of Technology Fyshwick campus. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury cooked sausages on a hydrogen-powered barbecue at the Canberra Institute of Technology Fyshwick campus. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Mr Rattenbury said he hoped the use of hydrogen gas would also reduce the hit to Canberrans' hip pocket.

"I think a lot of people have been really shocked by the price rises for natural gas in the last couple of years and it's made them question the future of their energy usage," he said.

"Hydrogen has the potential to both expand the usage of renewables across the day but also bring the price down."

  • Phase 1: Testing existing Australian network components, construction and maintenance practices on 100 per cent hydrogen.
  • Phase 2: Testing hydrogen as a broader energy storage source to support coupling the electricity network to the gas network.
  • Phase 3: Appliance testing (e.g. testing hydrogen and mixed gases in existing appliances like hot water systems).

"This first-of-its-kind facility will allow us to gain a clear understanding of the impact of introducing hydrogen to existing infrastructure," Mr Yeap said.

"We will be moving one step closer to realising the ability for a viable renewable gas source to be rolled out on a large scale."

The Canberra Institute of Technology will also use the facility to train plumbing students in new technologies so they are skill-ready for the future, Mr Rattenbury said.