APA Launches Australia's First Hydrogen-Ready Transmission Pipeline Project

Australia’s APA Group announced a landmark hydrogen pilot project to enable the proposed conversion of 43-kilometers (26.7 miles) of Parmelia Gas Pipeline in Western Australia into Australia’s first 100 percent hydrogen-ready transmission pipeline.

The pilot project is APA’s first project under its Pathfinder Program – a new initiative that will help unlock energy solutions of the future – and would make the Parmelia Gas Pipeline one of only a few existing gas transmission pipelines in the world, 100 percent hydrogen-ready.

“APA is excited to be bringing international best practice to Australia in this national first, which we expect will test and prove the capacity of the existing gas transmission pipeline network to transport hydrogen in pure form or blended with natural gas,” APA Group Chief Executive and Managing Director Rob Wheals said. “With billions of dollars invested in gas infrastructure across the country, it makes sense to look at ways to use our existing energy infrastructure to support Australia’s transition to a low carbon future.”

Studies show continuing to use gas infrastructure can reduce emissions at half the cost to customers than electrifying the services provided by gas, Wheals said.

Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre and Wollongong University have partnered with APA to support the engineering research to enable the safe and efficient conversion.

The $3 million project will fund three phases, including: research and testing of the material for embrittlement in the laboratory, development of safe operating guidelines and full-scale testing on-site.

A new laboratory is being established at Wollongong University to test materials, which are representative of the pipeline, under pressurized hydrogen gas conditions.

One of the COAG Energy Council’s National Hydrogen Strategy’s recommendations was for pipelines to be tested for their response to hydrogen embrittlement.

APA is targeting the testing and research to be completed around late CY2022, which if successful would make the pipeline hydrogen-ready.

Wheals said APA welcomed the opportunity to discuss services the proposed new hydrogen-ready pipeline can provide with potential producers and customers.

Subject to proving the pipeline is hydrogen-ready, APA will then need to consider ongoing work in conjunction with potential producers and customers to understand the infrastructure and connection requirements to commission the pipeline as a hydrogen service.

During the testing, APA will work with WA’s Economic Regulation Authority and WA Government to demonstrate the safety of hydrogen transmission pipelines and support the development of Australian standards.

APA Group Executive for Transformation and Technology, Hannah McCaughey, said the 43-kilometer section of the Parmelia Gas Pipeline supplies the Kwinana industrial precinct in south Perth, where a number of existing customers already rely on hydrogen for industrial processing, as well as natural gas.

“Kwinana is potentially a key hydrogen production and usage location, linked to a large industrial base and transport hubs, with the potential to one day service export markets,” she said.

The launch of the Parmelia Gas Pipeline pilot project follows APA’s continued progress towards a sustainable future, including APA’s ambition to achieve net zero operations emissions by 2050.

Transmission of hydrogen at scale is a critical part of delivering the Australian Government’s hydrogen economy ambition and will also be important to support the WA Government’s hydrogen blending goal of 10 percent by 2030.

Following the completion of the testing, the pilot project results will also support decision-making for the potential transition of other APA assets to be hydrogen-ready.

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