The Write Direction: Hello Hydrogen

AN exciting decarbonisation development is said to be coming to Newcastle in the near future.

The Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub will be a major breakthrough in providing clean energy for this area’s industrial and manufacturing base.

Newcastle was always known as the dirty, smelly and smoky city which survived on the back of BHP steel, railway infrastructure, its port and shipping enterprises.

When we think about Newcastle’s future one must wonder what will happen when the anti-coal, pro-environment supporters achieve their objective of eliminating coal use from the production of electricity.

We too must think about the jobs that will be eliminated not only in the production of electricity, but in the railways that deliver coal from the mines to the seaboard.

One of the future concepts believed to be suitable to replace coal and deliver clean and green results is the provision of hydrogen to eventually take over from solar and wind production, particularly in the power industry for manufacturing electricity.

The industrial area of Kooragang Island was the chosen location for the hub due to its close proximity to the high energy users, its existing skilled workforce and its excellent deep-water port, plus the availability of suitable waterfront land.

Hydrogen is produced by electrolysis using recycled water and grid-connected electricity plus the surrender of large-scale renewable generation certificates, very similar to what we all did when purchasing our rooftop solar systems or our solar battery.

My one form of doubt exists with the massive requirement for water use in the production of hydrogen by electrolysis and its availability in Newcastle.

The use of treated and recycled water is great but somewhere down the line it is assumed that a water desalination plant will need to be provided in order to supply the Hydrogen Hub.

Readers will remember that the State Government’s action in preventing the Tillegra Dam’s construction is one of my prime targets.

The dam would have provided more water for the Newcastle area and eliminated the need for a new desalination plant.

We all know that the cost of fresh water from the sea by desalination is horrifically expensive, which could have been prevented by the dam’s construction and add to the safety of fresh water supply for NSW’s second largest city.


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