ATCO opens Clean Energy Innovation Hub

ATCO, hydrogen
ATCO Chair and CEO Nancy Southern officially opening the Clean Energy Innovation Hub along with WA Energy Minister The Hon Bill Johnston MLA

ATCO’s $3.6 million Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Jandakot, Western Australia has officially opened, giving Australia’s hydrogen energy future a boost.

ATCO managing director in Australia Pat Creaghan said the research facility will investigate the potential role of hydrogen in the future energy mix.

The project received $1.6 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of their Advancing Renewables Program.

The Clean Energy Innovation Hub will explore the potential role hydrogen can play to complement intermittent renewable energy of wind and solar, as well as potential for blending within the existing natural gas network. By testing different combinations of energy blends and integrating natural gas, solar, battery storage and hydrogen, the project will examine the role hydrogen might play in hybrid microgrids, and as a future balancing fuel to support the electricity grid in Western Australia and beyond.

hydrogen, ATCO
The Clean Energy Innovation Hub. The hydrolyser on the left, the white tank in the background, is the hydrogen tank and the blue spherical container is where hydrogen will be blended with natural gas as ATCO tests the process

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“Natural gas already provides a lower carbon alternative to many traditional energy sources,” Mr Creaghan said.

“It is also a reliable source of back up energy, which means we can use more renewable energy sources to power homes and businesses. We believe the natural gas distribution network has an important and ongoing role to play in the future energy mix.”

In attendance at the launch was Minister for Energy Hon Bill Johnston MLA and Minister for Regional Development and Chair of the Renewable Hydrogen Council Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC. Also in attendance was Western Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken.

ATCO Chair and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Southern was in attendance to officially open the Hub, as well as ATCO’s new training centre and ‘Six Season Garden’.

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The training centre includes ‘ATCO Avenue’, a mock street that provides real life, hands-on experiences for our employees and trainees. ATCO currently has nine trainees working towards a Certificate III in Gas Supply Industry Operations, as well as an additional 16 mature employees undertaking formal training at the centre.

Designed by Nyoongar elder Denice Kickett, the ‘Six Season Garden’ is used by ATCO to educate staff and visitors on Nyoongar culture. Plants within the Garden will also be used in its Blue Flame Kitchen program, which educates primary school children about natural gas safety, healthy eating and cooking.