The ACT government’s new fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have reached Australian shores, but their deployment has been hampered as Covid-19 has prevented the installation of a crucial piece of equipment – Australia’s first public hydrogen refuelling station.
ACT climate change and sustainability minister Shane Rattenbury told a Smart Energy Council webinar on Wednesday that the fleet of 20 Hyundai hydrogen fuel cell vehicles had arrived in Australia, but had faced delays in deployment due to difficulties in being the right expertise into Canberra to get the refuelling infrastructure up and running.
“The ACT government has committed to bringing in 20 hydrogen vehicles into our fleet in partnership with Hyundai and Neoen and as part of one of our large scale reverse auction,” Rattenbury said.
“Unfortunately, due to Covid, we’ve had some real difficulties getting that going. The vehicles are here in Australia. But the technology for the fueling station has been held up.”
The ACT government is set to use 20 of Hyundai’s Nexo fuel cell models, which has a 95kW fuel cell stack that supplies energy to its 40kW battery, delivering 120kW of power to the motor a range of more than 800 kilometres.
The major hurdle for the deployment of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle fleet has been the lack of local expertise on refuelling infrastructure, with the ACT currently unable to bring in the right personnel to support the installation of a refuelling rig.
“We were due to be shipping in some US expertise to help with the installation of the refuelling station, but with Covid and the border closures, that’s been problematic,” Rattenbury said.
“We are now meant to be bringing in some expertise from Victoria, and we know what’s happening in Victoria. So we are behind schedule on that one. We’re pretty frustrated about that. But it’s something that’s ended up being beyond our control.”
“But it’s a lock-in. We are going to do it. The vehicles are sitting up with Hyundai in Sydney and so as soon as we can get the refuelling station up and running those vehicles will come into being part of the ACT government fleet.” Rattenbury added.
The refuelling station is set to be located in the industrial suburb of Fyshwick in Canberra’s south, and will become the first publicly available hydrogen refuelling station in Australia.
The ACT government secured a commitment from renewable energy developer Neoen to support the rollout of the hydrogen vehicle fleet as part of the ACT’s commitment to purchase electricity from the Hornsdale wind farm.
Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm is contributing to the ACT’s supply of 100 per cent renewable electricity, having secured a contract to supply the territory through its reverse auction process. As part of the deal, Neoen is required to reinvest a portion of the funds paid by the ACT into hydrogen projects, including green hydrogen production and vehicle refuelling infrastructure.
Neoen has already kick-started the development of another 1.25MW electrolyser facility in South Australia, which joins a number of leading projects the company has undertaken in the state, including the Hornsdale wind farm and the Hornsdale big battery.