According to energy research specialists, Energeia, to support a market in Australia in which electric vehicles represent all new vehicles sales, a network of around 28,500 public-access, fast-charging points across the nation would be required, at an investment of around $1.7 billion just for the chargers.
Jemena supports technologies which reduce carbon emissions, and we are working with a number of partner organisations to consider electric vehicles, and their potential impact on the Jemena Electricity Network in Victoria.
However, the potential network investment required to support EVs is considerable and if there are alternatives ways a network can support low-emissions vehicles, we believe they should be explored.
Hydrogen powered vehicle
Enter hydrogen-powered vehicles.
The concept of hydrogen vehicles is not new. According to the history books, in the early 1800s, the Reverend William Cecil wrote a paper outlining how hydrogen gas could power engines, before Nicolas Otto’s hydrogen rich, town gas, four stroke engine was developed.
But it was Karl Benz who manufactured the first petrol/gasoline motor car in the late 1800s and the rest, as they say, is history.
Back to today and many European and international countries are banning the sale of the internal combustion engine from 2025 onwards, meaning hydrogen travel could still have its day.
Hydrogen is increasingly viewed as a credible transport fuel source because of its excellent green credentials. Hydrogen vehicles emit zero emissions, with their only by-product being water.
However, like their electric counterparts, hydrogen vehicles are (for the moment) not supported by a network of refuelling stations.
This hasn’t deterred Hyundai and Toyota in Australia both advancing their hydrogen vehicle development programs on the assumption that if they build the car, the infrastructure will come.
In addition, refuelling technology exists and has demonstrated that pumping hydrogen into a vehicle is around ten times faster than the time it takes to recharge a battery electric vehicle.
Therefore, the vehicles and the refuelling mechanisms are available and what’s missing is access to the fuel itself. This is where Jemena could come into the equation.
Jemena's Hydrogen Gas Trial – fuelling hydrogen vehicles
In partnership with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), we have begun a $15 million Power to Gas trial. The project will test hydrogen storage in our 25,000 kilometre Jemena Gas Network pipeline in New South Wales
Excess hydrogen from the project could be made available to the vehicle industry.
This would be good news not just for the car industry, but for hydrogen transport in general. According to Energy Networks Australia’s Gas Vision 2050 Report, there are approximately 380,000 gas vehicles in Australia, the majority being small vans and trucks.
Hydrogen already supports a number of transport modes including fork lifts, trams, light and heavy vehicles, and railways. It has the potential to power shipping, but it is public transport where we see great potential.
Ten hydrogen buses currently operate in London and there have been public transport trials in Australia.
We have opened discussions with public transport groups and local government fleet operators about potentially taking excess hydrogen from Jemena's Hydrogen Gas Trial.
By connecting energy, vehicle and industry groups, such as Hydrogen Mobility Australia, we are sharing knowledge, finding synergies and collaborating on regulatory, technical and consumer issues.
Energy distribution is still our core business, but it is exciting to align with new sectors and work together on innovations to benefit customers, the economy and the environment.
Watch how Jemena is working with industry groups and car companies to further develop hydrogen vehicles: Bringing Energy to Life – fuelling the hydrogen vehicle industry
Find out more about Jemena's Hydrogen Gas Project.