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Vehicle plant converts to renewables hub Thursday, 02 May 2019

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide funding to Toyota Motor Corporation Australia to begin transforming part of its decommissioned car manufacturing plant in Melbourne into a renewable energy hub to produce green hydrogen for transport.

The $7.4 million Toyota Australia Hydrogen Centre is part of a larger transformation planned for the former vehicle manufacturing site. ARENA, an Australian Government agency, will put $3.1 million towards the project.

The new centre will include solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage to cover the incremental energy requirements for the production of renewable hydrogen through electrolysis and utilisation for both mobile and stationary applications.

Toyota Australia president and CEO, Matt Callachor, said hydrogen could play a significant role in Australia's future.

“Hydrogen has the potential to play a pivotal role in the future because it can be used to store and transport energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources to power many things," he said.

“Right now, the biggest factor to the success of hydrogen being widely available is the lack of infrastructure. The sooner we move to a zero emissions society, the better."

Last year, Roads Australia identified an opportunity for Australia to collaborate with Japan and Korea on fuel cell technology for buses and trucks, flagging the production of hydrogen as a fuel for use in transport to be considered.

Earlier this year, a federal government committee began investigating the potential for hydrogen-powered trains in Australia such as those which are now in use in Germany.

The Toyota project will aim to demonstrate an end-to-end process for the hydrogen creation chain, according to ARENA, from producing hydrogen through electrolysis to the compression and storage of hydrogen and electricity generation via hydrogen fuel cells.

The hydrogen centre will also include an education centre and Victoria’s first commercial scale hydrogen vehicle refuelling station to allow the refuelling of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The project will produce at least 60 kg of hydrogen per day with onsite solar PV and battery storage to contribute to the incremental energy requirements of the whole site.

Hydrogen could potentially be used as a way for Australia to export renewable energy to other countries, ARENA said, particularly in Asia. Japan has already set a 10-year strategy to become a large scale importer of renewable hydrogen.