Australia signs deal with Japan to allow bulk shipping of liquid hydrogen

Japan will use Latrobe brown coal to produce green hydrogen.

Australia and Japan signed a memorandum at the headquarters of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in Canberra last week which will allow liquid hydrogen to be shipped in bulk for the first time.

Ship containment systems are being developed in Japan that will be capable of safely transporting liquid hydrogen in bulk from Australia to Japan as part of a pilot project scheduled to commence in 2020.

The memorandum was signed on Wednesday by Australian Maritime Safety Authority representative Alex Shultz-Altmann and Japanese transport ministry representative Masumi Ito in Canberra.

Called the Kawasaki Hydrogen Road, the project will see the production of hydrogen from mined brown coal and sent to Japan in custom-made ships.

The project could be a boost the the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, with brown coal found region identified as the fuel source that will be converted into hydrogen as part of the hydrogen energy supply-chain project.

Bulk gas cargoes are carried under the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) which is a mandatory code under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. The IGC code does not currently allow for the transportation of liquid hydrogen.

Cargoes not covered by the code can be carried if there is an agreement between relevant nations – the flag State of the ship, port of loading and port of unloading – and changes are developed to the code and taken to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for approval.

Australia worked with Japan to develop interim carriage requirements for the transportation of liquid hydrogen in bulk from Australia to Japan, which were agreed to in November last year.

“The interim carriage requirements specify the construction standards of containment vessels for liquid hydrogen carriers, and mitigate the safety risks associated with transporting the liquid hydrogen via sea” a statement from AMSA said.

“The interim carriage requirements are a critical milestone in the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Project and will allow the pilot project to proceed in 2020.

“The memorandum signing today was a key element in this process, and an important step forward for Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), which is building the pilot project’s liquid hydrogen carrier.”

The pilot project between Australia and Japan will inform future amendments to the IGC Code which will allow liquid hydrogen to be carried in bulk under the code without any special agreements.