The world’s first shipment of liquefied hydrogen is set to leave a port in Victoria, Australia, and commence its journey to Kobe, Japan.

The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project partners confirmed Friday the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier, the Suiso Frontier, had arrived in Victoria, with the specially built carrier ready to load super-cooled liquid hydrogen for transit to Japan.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison heralded the project milestone as a world first that would make Australia "a global leader" in hydrogen.

“A successful Australian hydrogen industry means lower emissions, greater energy production and more local jobs,” Morrison said.

“The HESC project puts Australia at the forefront of the global energy transition to lower emissions through clean hydrogen, which is a fuel of the future.”

The 99.999% pure hydrogen has been produced from Latrobe Valley brown coal and biomass via gasification, before being trucked to Hastings and cooled to minus 253 degrees Celsius and subsequently liquified to less than 800 times its gaseous volume.

The HESC partners claim the project is the first in the world to make, liquefy and transport liquid hydrogen by sea to an international market.

Looking towards commercial phase

Learnings from the pilot phase will be used to form the basis for further work to progress the project towards a commercial scale.

Additional work to be carried out to progress the project to a commercial scale includes engaging potential off-takers in Australia and Japan, as well as further refining and testing of biomass feedstock for hydrogen production.

The project partners also said they would look to improve technologies to reduce costs and carbon intensity across the supply chain.

HESC envisages the commercial phase producing 225,000 tonnes of liquefied hydrogen, which the partners claim will result in a reduction of roughly 1.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, as well as provide infrastructure for other hydrogen projects in the region.

Green vs Blue

Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas feedstocks, with the carbon dioxide by-product from hydrogen production captured and stored. However, the process is not emissions free.

Green hydrogen is made using electrolysis powered by renewable energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, creating an emissions-free fuel.

The commercial phase would also see a large portion of the CO2 emissions from the hydrogen production captured and stored at the Australian government’s proposed CarbonNet carbon capture and storage (CCS) project.

This would see CO2 captured and stored 1.5 kilometres beneath the Bass Strait, off the coast of Victoria.

Fresh funding

The Australian government also revealed Friday it would be providing A$7.4 million (US$5.3 million) to support the next A$184 million pre-commercialisation phase of the project.

It also confirmed it was committing A$20 million towards the next stage of the CarbonNet project, bringing the Australian government’s total commitment to the HESC project to A$57.5 million. The fresh funding is subject to additional commitments from the Victorian and Japanese governments and the HESC business partners.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the HESC partners and Japan through the Government’s new commitments to the next phase of both the HESC and CarbonNet projects,” Australia’s Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said.

“The HESC project has the potential to become a major source of clean energy which will help Australia and Japan both reach our goals of net zero emissions by 2050. Not only this, but the HESC project is delivering jobs and economic activity for Victoria, with a clean hydrogen sector potentially able to generate more than A$50 billion in additional GDP by 2050.”

The HESC is being delivered by a consortium involving Japanese companies Kawasaki Heavy Industries, J-Power, Iwatani, Marubeni and Sumitomo, as well as Australia’s AGL Energy. The Japanese portion of the project also involves Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell, Eneos and Kawasaki Kisen.

The overall project also has support from the Victorian, Australian and Japanese governments.