Hydrogen fuel cells offered as clean alternative to back-up diesel gen-sets

Perth firm Avid Group says it will partner with a global leader in hydrogen technologies to bring leading-edge fuel-cell modules to the Australian market.

Avid will offer 1.4kW hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative power supply to traditional diesel backup generator sets in a partnership with UK firm Intelligent Energy.

Avid hopes to provide an alternative to diesel generators by offering a fuel-cell module that can provide back-up electricity without the associated emissions and noise of the diesel-fuelled options.

Avid will target industrial users, including mining and telecommunications sites, as well as the portable generator market, focused on food and entertainment industries.

Avid Hydrogen Fuel cell model (supplied)

Hydrogen fuels have benefits over diesel fuels, as their fuel-cycle emits no pollutive exhaust, and provided the hydrogen is produced through the use of renewable energy, there are no associated greenhouse gas emissions with the fuel.

“Hydrogen is cleaner, safer and more efficient than diesel. The only thing that the fuel cells emit are water vapour. It makes perfect sense that it is part of our renewable energy mix.” Avid Group business development manager Aaron Teo said.

“Hydrogen has the potential to become an important alternative energy source in Australia, just as it has in Europe and Japan,”

“In the past 15 years, we’ve seen a big take up of solar power across Australia and we believe hydrogen will also take off in the same way.”

“We just need to make it more readily available and educate industry about the benefits of making the switch.”

Demand for hydrogen has grown considerably over the last few years, following significant investment in fuel cell technologies particularly in Japan.

Japan has pledged to that the 2020 Olympics will be entirely run on renewable energy and will use renewable hydrogen as the primary fuel for powering the Olympic village and the Olympic torches.

The country will use the Olympics as an opportunity to showcase emerging hydrogen technologies, including the all-hydrogen Toyota Mirai sedan.

While Japan has made significant progress in the development of hydrogen fuel-cell technologies, there is a vast potential for Australia to play a major global role as a hydrogen supplier.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) recently allocated $20 million in grant funding to support the development of Australia’s renewable hydrogen export industry.

ARENA has estimated that hydrogen fuels could grow to become a $1.7 billion market in Australia by 2030, supporting the creation of 2,800 new jobs.

Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel currently chairs the Hydrogen Strategy Group, which has presented to the COAG Energy Council on the immense opportunity the production of hydrogen fuels presents for Australia.

“Hydrogen produces only water vapour and heat when burned. When produced from water using renewable electricity, or from coal or methane combined with carbon capture and storage, it’s a close to zero-emissions fuel. With appropriate safeguards, it’s just as safe as natural gas, and just as convenient for consumers.” Finkel told the COAG energy council.

“Japan currently imports 94% of its energy in the form of fossil fuels. To reduce its emissions, government and industry have put ambitious hydrogen uptake targets at the heart of a comprehensive energy transition plan,” Finkel said.

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