Guest Article - Hydrogen Future Gets a Local Boost

A cleaner energy future is now closer than ever with the official opening of ATCO’s $3.6 million Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Jandakot, Western Australia in July.

Over 130 guests were welcomed to the opening, including the Minister for Energy Hon Bill Johnston MLA and Minister for Regional Development and Chair of the Renewable Hydrogen Council Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC and Western Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken.

Nancy Southern, ATCO’s Chair & Chief Executive Officer and Siegfried Kiefer, Canadian Utilities President & Chief Executive Officer; were also in attendance to officially open the Hub, along with ATCO’s new training centre, and Six Season Garden.

Guests and media were led on guided tours of the entire facility, inclusive of the training centre, and got a sneak peak of ATCO Avenue, a mock street which provides real-life, hands-on experiences for our employees and trainees. The tour continued on to the Six Season Garden, designed by Nyoongar woman Denice Kickett. The garden is used to educate ATCO employees and visitors on Nyoongar culture. Plants within the Garden will also be used in our Blue Flame Kitchen program.

At the heart of the redevelopment is the $3.6 million Clean Energy Innovation Hub, a commercial-scale micro grid that incorporates renewable energy from solar, battery storage and hydrogen. The Hub, partially funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will evaluate the potential for renewable hydrogen to be produced, stored and used on a larger scale.

“A cleaner energy future is important to our customers. That’s why we’re excited to establish a leading research and development facility here in Western Australia,” said Pat Creaghan, Managing Director, ATCO Australia.

“Natural gas already provides a lower carbon alternative to many traditional energy sources,” he said. “It is also a reliable source of back-up energy, which means we can use more renewable energy sources to power homes and businesses. We believe the natural gas distribution network has an important and ongoing role to play in the future energy mix.”

The Hub will explore the potential role hydrogen can play to complement intermittent renewable energy of wind and solar, as well as the potential for blending within the existing natural gas network. By testing different combinations of energy blends and integrating natural gas, solar, battery storage and hydrogen, the project will examine the role hydrogen might play in hybrid microgrids, and as a future balancing fuel to support the electricity grid in Western Australia and beyond.

The Hub draws on ATCO’s established expertise in natural gas and recent residential hybrid energy system trial as it works to transition the network to a potential future energy mix that may include a blend of natural gas, biogas and hydrogen. The project will evaluate the potential for renewable hydrogen to be produced, stored and used on a larger scale.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.