Australian Economy

Viva puts in order for Australia’s biggest electrolyser to produce enewable hydrogen

A hydrogen refuelling station. Photo credit: Canva.

Viva Energy is moving forward with plans to green up its Victorian oil refinery business, with the news this week that it has placed an order for a electrolyser for the production of “fuel cell grade” renewable hydrogen.

Nel Hydrogen US, a subsidiary of the Norway-based Nel ASA, said on Wednesday that it has received a purchase order from Viva for a MC500 containerised polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) water electrolyser valued at €4 million.

According to Nel Hydroden, the electrolyser ordered by Viva will be used to supply green hydrogen to a fleet of heavy fuel cell vehicles at a dedicated refuelling station. Once installed, in late 2023, Nel says the 2.5MW electrolsyer will be the biggest in Australia.

ASX-listed Viva Energy owns the Geelong refinery in Victoria’s south and supplies around one-quarter of Australia’s liquid fuel needs, including as the exclusive licensee of Shell in Australia and through a service station network of around 1,350 facilities across Australia.

The company already sources around one-third of its annual energy needs from locally generated wind power, through a PPA with Acciona’s 132MW Mt Gellibrand wind farm, but was inspired to shift further into renewables with the major slump in fossil fuel demand that came with the Covd-19 pandemic.

Among other plans, Viva Energy has been mulling the addition the creation of a new “Energy Hub” at the Corio refinery, including a solar farm, battery storage and the production of green fuels, including hydrogen.

Ironically, Viva’s fossil fuel fortunes have improved dramatically in 2022, courtesy off the global energy price and supply crunch wrought by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – just this week the company reported a boost to half-year profits of 140% on the same time last year.

Still, Viva’s shift to renewables continues, including on this flagship hydrogen fuel project, which has been backed by a grant from Arena and from the Victorian government via its Renewable Hydrogen Commercialisation Pathways Fund.

“It is a great pleasure to collaborate with Viva Energy and our local partner ENGV to develop this unique flagship project in Australia,” said Nel Hydrogen’s vice president of sales and marketing EMEA and Oceania, Raymond Schmid.

“This project is an important milestone for Australia’s targeted efforts to decarbonise the mobility sector and create a local hydrogen economy,” he said.

Nel says the system being delivered to Viva is a containerised solution with a production capacity up to 1,063kg/day, and will supply fuel cell grade hydrogen directly on site to the dedicated fuelling station.

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