Why Paul Broad Quit Snowy Hydro

“Thinking that there can be hydrogen in Kurri Kurri when there is no hydrogen produced in Newcastle just doesn’t make any sense.”

Sources close to the company suggest that the green hydrogen instruction for the power station was a major factor in Mr Broad’s decision to resign, amid concerns that the economics of such a plan would not add up even if green hydrogen were available. in the Hunter region. .

Snowy is believed to have even looked into options for producing green hydrogen on site. The federal government has reportedly earmarked another $700 million to cover the additional capital cost.

Broad declined to elaborate on Wednesday.

A spokesman for federal energy minister Chris Bowen said the Albanian government “remains committed to transitioning the Hunter Power Project to use green hydrogen and we continue to work closely with Snowy Hydro Limited to deliver on this commitment as soon as possible.” “.

“The transition of the Hunter Power Project to use hydrogen will provide long-term security for Kurri Kurri and help support further investment in renewable energy and support Australia’s transition to cheaper and cleaner renewable energy,” he said.

While Snowy Hydro president David Knox dismissed the suggestion of friction between Broad and Bowen over the hydrogen failure, Knox acknowledged the big challenges the green hydrogen requirement posed for Kurri Kurri.

Mr. Knox paid tribute to Mr. Broad’s “superb achievement” in bringing the project to completion, but highlighted the issues that have yet to be resolved.

“Now the next challenge is, first, to do the technology transfer so that we can do 15 percent ignition and 30 percent hydrogen,” he said. The Australian Financial Review.

“The second challenge, of course, is to get hydrogen manufactured in the Newcastle area. So there are two things: one, actually the technology to power the gas turbines, the other thing is actually getting the hydrogen.”

Knox said Snowy signed a memorandum of understanding with Mitsubishi, the company supplying the turbines for the Hunter Power Project, to develop “complex” burner technology that allows the generator to run on 30 percent hydrogen, which then requires exhaustive tests. .

“The challenges are getting a burner that works on methane, hydrogen and also backup diesel if we need it,” he said. “That’s really challenging, really challenging. No one has done that before. So we’re working on that.

“We’re all learning how the hell we’re going to do this and how we’re going to produce the hydrogen.”

A spokesman for Snowy said he could not provide more information about working with Mitsubishi to develop multi-fuel capability at the plant, while Mitsubishi Power in Australia did not immediately respond to questions.

Additional doubts about the power project arise as the Australian Power Market Operator issued a new warning about the growing unreliability of electricity supply in the National Electricity Market amid accelerated closures of coal-fired power plants, delays in transmission to connect new projects and the expected increase in demand due to the trend of electrification.

AEMO assumes the 750 MW Kurri Kurri project comes online as scheduled from December 2023, preceded by two months by EnergyAustralia’s Tallawarra B power station in NSW, which secured $83 million of government funding to ensure it is capable of running on a combination of gas and green hydrogen.

Even then, NSW must fail to meet an interim reliability standard for electricity supply in 2025-26, following the closure of AGL Energy’s Liddell generator in 2023 and Origin Energy’s Eraring generator in August 2025.

“Kurri Kurri is included in what is needed in the ESOO to prevent lights out,” said Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood, noting growing risks around replacement capacity for existing coal plants that are evident in the report.

Wood said Labor had “created a bit of a problem” by putting in place the provision on the use of renewable-based hydrogen at the power station, pointing to the modifications required to equipment to transport hydrogen to the plant and burn it there.

“What they have to do to meet that commitment is very challenging,” he said, adding that given the uncertainty over where hydrogen would add value to the economy, it was premature to commit to using it in power generation.

Analysis by clean energy consultant Liebreich Associates found that due to the energy intensity of producing hydrogen, electricity generation is one of the least competitive applications and will be more suitable in hard-to-reduce areas such as fertilizers.

Bruce Mountain, director of the Victoria Center for Energy Policy at the University of Victoria, said it was “unrealistic” to run the Kurri Kurri turbines currently under construction on 30 per cent hydrogen.

“They will need new turbines and new pipelines from what is currently on order,” he said.

Burning hydrogen in an open-cycle gas turbine power plant was probably “the least valuable use of hydrogen I can imagine,” Professor Mountain added.

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