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The Challenges of Delivering a Large-Scale Green Hydrogen Project

In an emissions-constrained world, hydrogen will likely play a significant role in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors, residential heating, transportation, and flexible power generation. Thus, green hydrogen generation via water electrolysis using renewable energy will need to be rapidly scaled up and deployed. In Q1 2021, Petrofac delivered a front-end engineering design for the Arrowsmith Hydrogen Plant, a 25 tonnes/day green hydrogen production facility, the first phase of a staged development by Infinite Blue Energy Group. Several challenges were encountered that are specific to hydrogen projects – the selection of the appropriate hydrogen production technology, the intermittency of the renewable energy, wastewater management, large scale hydrogen storage, equipment supply chain limitations and HSE challenges. These challenges are not the typical engineering problems faced in designing gas processing facilities and were addressed by a combination of a systems design approach, the unorthodox use of equipment, and good engineering practices that remain valid no matter the process or the industry under consideration. With hydrogen on the ascendency, and similar projects expected to proliferate over the next few years, it is concluded that location of the plant will be a primary enabler for projects. In this particular case, Western Australia possesses abundant renewable resources that facilitates reliable and cheap renewable power generation, which then results in competitive green hydrogen prices. Presently, such conditions are not accessible in all regions around the world, therefore financial viability of green hydrogen deployment needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.


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