For the few of us who have just gotten our heads around the concept of hydrogen fuel cell electricity generation, the Geelong Energy Hub’s announcement that it would have a service station ready for the technology as early as 2023, advances Baudrillard’s assertion that a theory, whatever the layers of its analysis, must be an event in the universe it describes.
The New Energies Service Station, in addition to EV recharging facilities, will house hydrogen refuelling for commercial vehicles, making it something of a catalyst for a grand network of hydrogen refuelling stations from Geelong to Sydney and eventually as far north as Brisbane.
It’s a significant development. The project is said to drive hydrogen demand in parallel with infrastructure development to overcome the ‘chicken-and-egg’ challenge, more traditionally a key hurdle for the sector.
Such scenarios, for investors, are akin to the Mexican Standoff in movies, everyone with guns at the ready, finger on the trigger, reluctant in the face of the shortfall outcome, to squeeze it.
On the road less travelled we’re suddenly at High Noon.
The project ties in closely with Viva Energy’s lofty ambitions to reach net zero carbon emissions across the business by 2050.
It’s part of an Australian energy transition that, at least for the moment, does not yet incorporate nuclear.
Zero emission vehicles, of course, cannot be used to mine the commodities that go into the resources and infrastructure required for solar farms and charging stations.
At last count 11 tonnes of coal are burned for a single solar panel.
For this to happen the wider industry will need to detach itself from the virtue signalling-first, science-later orbit prone in the marketplace of ideas.
As Sam Kriss recently wrote, “when people think they’ve torn away the illusions of the world, they’re usually even deeper into the illusion than anyone else.”
Pressure, nevertheless, mounts on industry to transcend bench-to-bookshelf science.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which allocated a $22.8 million grant to Geelong Energy Hub project is doing its part to facilitate the innovative adoption and diffusion of ideas and technologies across the economy.
Of the $2.2 billion new investment announced by Federal Government in February for university research commercialisation, $1.6 billion has been pitched to create a new research commercialisation fund.
Investors truly interested in offsetting emissions, for the purpose of supporting new green infrastructure, might consider next-generation geothermal technology.
The Union of Concerned Scientists observes that “the amount of heat within 10,000 metres of Earth’s surface contains 50,000 times more energy than all the oil and natural gas resources in the world.”
In a closed-loop system, engineers construct a set of pipes that circulate fluid from the surface to the heat source and back.
Heat gets absorbed by the fluid when it is near the heat source and is extracted from the fluid and converted to electricity at the surface.
Like wind and solar, geothermal produces no carbon-dioxide.
Unlike wind and solar, it is available 24 hours a day, regardless of the weather — a critical distinction given electricity grids require an ongoing and persistent supply-and-demand balance.
With the electricity grid secured, geothermal energy would augment battery storage for fleets of electric heavy vehicles.
That’s just for starters. It is estimated that one per cent of the geothermal energy shallower than five kilometres and hotter than 150°C could supply Australia’s total energy requirements for 26 000 years.
That’s based on figures more than a decade old.
Presently, according to a statement on the Geoscience Australia website, there is no commercial production of geothermal energy in Australia.
Pay rapt attention to the present imbalance of all things.
The corrections are coming.