New funding has been provided for Australia’s first remote microgrid using renewable hydrogen generation.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $2.6 million for the project in Denham, Western Australia.

The project. To be run by Horizon Power, will be a first-of-its-kind demonstration that will utilise solar and renewable hydrogen generation and storage to provide 526 MWh of dispatchable renewable electricity, enough to power the equivalent of 100 residential homes.

The plant will consist of a 348 kW hydrogen electrolyser with accompanying compression and storage and 100 kW fuel cell, alongside 704 kW of solar that will power the electrolyser to produce hydrogen for storage which can later be used in the fuel cell to deliver electricity when it is needed. The plant will be connected to the Denham hybrid power station system.

If the project is successful, Horizon Power will look to scale up the solution with increased hydrogen and solar penetration and replicate the technology in other remote power systems across its portfolio. It will also provide a reference case for remote power systems in other states and territories including Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Denham was chosen because of its close proximity to quality wind and solar resources, availability of land, access to water and the need to find a solution to replace the current ageing diesel power station.

Construction is expected to commence in August next year, and be commissioned by December 2021.

The Horizon Power project is also receiving $5.7 million from the Western Australian Government’s Recovery Plan, including $1 million from the Western Australian Renewable Hydrogen Fund.

While renewable hydrogen is not currently commercially viable, the aim of the project is to test the technical capability of hydrogen as a dispatchable power source in remote power systems to test and improve the competitiveness of the technology.

“This plant will demonstrate how hydrogen can reliably produce power for our towns currently dependent on diesel fuel power systems and allow us to transition our network away from higher emission generating sources and meet our target of no new diesel generation systems from 2025,” Horizon Power chief Stephanie Unwin said.

“This technology has the potential to be an environmental game changer for many remote towns in Western Australia and other similar locations around Australia, and allow greater uptake of reliable cleaner, greener renewable energy sources in the future.”