Australian energy company AGL Energy (AGL) announced on March 23 that it has filed an application to the state government of Victoria for installing a 200MW grid-scale battery at its Loy Yang Power Station. Around the same time, AGL also proposed to build a floating solar farm next to the power station. The Loyang Power Station is located in Latrobe Valley, a coal-rich region within the state of Victoria. It is the largest power station in Australia and part of the wider Loy Yang Complex that also contains a pilot plant for producing brown hydrogen. AGL has said that the company will switch to green hydrogen production in the future, and the proposal for a floating solar farm is a tentative step forward in the realization of this plan. Currently, AGL is collaborating with the Australian and Japanese governments on building the infrastructure for exporting brown hydrogen to Japan.
Besides Loy Yang, AGL is also installing batteries at its other thermal power stations. Examples include the Torrens Island Power Station in South Australia and the Liddell Power Station in New South Wales. As for brown hydrogen production, AGL is part of a consortium of industry partners that will be working with the Australian and Japanese governments to implement the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project. Specifically, the Loy Yang Complex will produce H2 gas via the coal gasification process. The CO2 emissions resulting from the H2 gas production will be stored underground via carbon capture storage. As for H2 gas, it will be trucked to a terminal facility at Port of Hastings in Victoria. There, it will be liquefied and loaded onto tankers bound for Japan.
In this phase of the HESC Project, Japan is willing to import brown hydrogen. However, AGL will eventually have to transition to exporting green hydrogen that is manufactured using renewable energies. Various media outlets have reported that the company has held internal discussions on developing a strategy to phase out coal and building floating solar farms on the ash ponds of its coal-fired power stations.
Speaking on these topics, Markus Brokhof, COO of AGL, stated that the Loy Yang base can leverage the special characteristics of its site and the wider Latrobe Valley to become “a hub of different energy uses” in the future.
Brokhof also said that his company will be modifying its existing generation sites to include alternative energy solutions such as battery energy storage, waste-to-energy conversion, electro-thermal solar storage, etc. AGL also plans to build a hydrogen distribution hub for the HESC Project at its coal unloading site in Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Brokhof emphasized that the strategy of his company is to create development opportunities with existing assets and site-specific conditions.