Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has approved an application from J-Power Latrobe Valley Pty Ltd (J-Power) for a Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) that will investigate the potential for converting coal to hydrogen.
An RD&D allows the company to conduct a short-term research or demonstration project with limited potential environmental impact. Any subsequent commercial operation would require additional EPA assessment and approval through a Works Approval. EPA’s Works Approval process includes public consultation.
The trial will run for a limited duration of 12 months starting in mid-2020 within a purpose-built plant in the Latrobe Valley converting brown coal to hydrogen, testing the viability of a combination of several existing technologies.
The plant would be within the AGL Loy Yang Complex at Bartons Lane, between the Loy Yang Power Stations, 3 to 5 km from nearby homes and 8 km south-east of the Traralgon town centre.
As it is an RD&D project, J-Power will not handle commercial volumes. Over 12 months of testing, it will use up to 160 tonnes of brown coal to produce three tonnes of hydrogen before the plant is shut down and removed from the site.
J-Power will measure and offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the proposal, and would dispose of small amounts of slag, char and waste water through systems onsite or via existing licensed facilities.
In making its decision, EPA considered environmental factors such as emissions to air, noise, wastewater and solid wastes. As the proposal is research based, it includes an emissions monitoring program with regular reporting to EPA.
The applicant hosted community information sessions in Morwell and Traralgon during May 2018, and has plans for more public sessions, information materials, a regular email newsletter and stakeholder briefings.
The applicant has also established a dedicated website https://hydrogenenergysupplychain.com where members of the public can provide comments or request information.