Frequently Asked Questions
We've tried to include as much information as we can for you on our website and in our FAQs, but if you can't find what you're looking for feel free to contact us.
What's the purpose of this work?
This project is aiming to show how blending renewable hydrogen with natural gas can reduce carbon emissions and deliver affordable, reliable, safe and cleaner energy to our customers.
Our renewable gas production facility is known as Hydrogen Park South Australia (HyP SA) at the Tonsley Innovation District. From HyP SA we’ll be producing renewable hydrogen. Hydrogen is better for the environment because it does not release carbon emissions when burnt.
Using the existing gas network, we’ll then supply around 710 properties near HyP SA with a blend of 5% renewable hydrogen and natural gas over the next five years.
Residents involved in the project have been informed and won’t experience any change in their current services gas and won’t pay any more than if they were receiving 100% natural gas. The blended gas is also as safe as the current natural gas supply.
About Australian Gas Networks (AGN)
Who is Australian Gas Networks (AGN)?
Australian Gas Networks (AGN) is Australia’s largest gas distributor. We own and operate the gas distribution network (gas network) in South Australia and pride ourselves on delivering a safe and reliable supply of natural gas to all our customers.
We serve more than 1.2 million customers in:
- South Asutralia
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
AGN is one of three companies that came together in 2017 to form Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG). AGIG is one of the largest energy infrastructure businesses in Australia, owning and operating infrastructure that delivers gas to more than two million Australian homes and businesses. AGIG also delivers gas that supports the Australian economy – for power generators, mines and manufactures.
For more information visit www.agig.com.au
How is AGN helping South Australia becoming carbon-neutral by 2050?
AGN is a proud supporter and contributor to Gas Vision 2050, a collaboration amongst the gas sector aiming to achieve a cleaner energy future for Australia while enhancing our national prosperity.
We are leading the way in terms of decarbonising gas supply.
What experience does AGN have in the community?
AGN has a long history serving South Australians. Our origins date back over 150 years to when the South Australian Gas Company was formed in 1861.
We’re experts in building and operating gas pipelines to deliver gas safely and reliably to our customers. We will call upon this experience for this project.
Why is AGN pursuing this project?
AGN, and AGIG more widely, actively support Gas Vision 2050which is a collaboration of energy companies examining how gas can work with renewable sources of energy to achieve a near-zero-carbon energy sector.
The main aim of this project is to demonstrate how blending renewable hydrogen with natural gas allows us to lower carbon emissions and still deliver energy safely and reliably, while balancing price.
Renewable hydrogen has other benefits in that it can be used to generate electricity, to fuel vehicles and there is a growing demand for it overseas, meaning it can underpin a substantial new industry and jobs.
A 5% hydrogen blend is the first step to lowering carbon emissions. We are also pursuing more projects, aiming to blend up to 10% hydrogen in South Australia and across the other regions we serve before considering 100% conversion.
Information for Residents in Mitchell Park
If I live in Mitchell Park will I receive the 5% renewable blended gas?
If you live south of Alawoona Ave in the area bounded by Alawoona Avenue, the railway line, Sturt Creek and Sturt Road, you’re likely to be in the area. The below map highlights the blended gas project area.Map of demonstration area.
Do I have to receive the blended gas?
Yes, if your property is within the zoned area of the project you will receive the blended gas via the existing gas network.
Will I have to do anything to receive the 5% renewable blended gas?
You do not need to do anything at all. The blended 5% renewable gas will automatically be supplied to your property from mid-2020.
As part of this project, you may elect to have a free Gas Appliance Efficiency Audit. It is recommended that you have your gas appliances serviced every two years by a licensed gas fitter. Although not widely advertised, it is recommended that you have your gas appliances serviced every two years by a licensed gas fitter. Please contact us to register for this audit.
How will I know when I start receiving the 5% renewable blended gas?
From mid-2020 you will start receiving the 5% renewable hydrogen gas blend for an initial period of five years. We will provide further detail on the exact start date as project development progresses.
Will the 5% renewable gas blend affect my bills?
There will be no change to the price you pay as a result of receiving blended 5% renewable gas. Customers will pay the same amount as if they were receiving 100% natural gas.
You may notice a slight change to volume of gas received and to the Pressure Correction Factor on your bill. We have altered the Pressure Correction Factor to ensure you pay no more than customers receiving 100% natural gas.
Any arrangements you have in place with your gas retailer will continue, including receiving your gas bill in your usual billing cycle.
Can the existing gas pipes in the project area safely receive the blended gas?
Yes. The gas network running through Mitchell Park can accommodate the 5% renewable gas blend.
Will the gas flame look any different?
The blended gas contains 5% renewable hydrogen which is not expected to change the color of the flame.
Both natural gas (methane) and hydrogen are colorless gases, however when burnt, natural gas turns blue while pure hydrogen remains invisible.
In the unlikely event you do notice a change in your gas flame, it will most likely be caused by impurities in the air at that point.
Will there be any new equipment in Mitchell Park for this project?
Our contractors will need to carry out some minor work on the gas network in Mitchell Park before the blended gas flows begin. Otherwise, no new equipment or appliances will be needed.
Appliances and Safety
Will my appliances be safe during the project?
Yes, receiving the 5% renewable gas blend will be as safe to use as 100% natural gas.
The characteristics of the blended 5% renewable gas are consistent with the specifications set out in the Australian Standards for natural gas.
Any appliances sold in Australia are subject to testing to ensure they work safely and reliably with natural gas. They are tested with varying gas compositions to account for the varying sources of natural gas supplied around Australia. One of these “limit” gas compositions already contains 13% hydrogen.
We are also undertaking our own appliance testing program in which an Australian certified laboratory tests Australian appliances with various percentages of hydrogen. Initial test results indicate that appliances will work safety and reliably with a 5% renewable hydrogen blend. Full results will be available before we begin supplying blended gas.
This is consistent with literature and international projects which are supplying up to 20% hydrogen blends.
As a benefit of being part of this project, we are offering residents in the demonstration area an opportunity to have a free gas appliance audit to ensure your gas appliances are installed correctly and working safely and efficiently. Contact us to register your interest in the appliance audit.
About Hydrogen Park SA (HyP SA)
What is HyP SA?
Hydrogen Park SA (HyP SA) is the name of the facility where we will produce hydrogen from renewable electricity and water using a process known as electrolysis.
The renewable hydrogen will then be blended with natural gas and supplied into our existing distribution network at volumes of no more than 5%, providing lower-carbon gas to homes and businesses.
HyP SA is also considering supplying hydrogen to other sectors to assist with their decarbonisation journey. This includes industry and the transport sector (through fuel cell vehicles). These expansions will not impact the supply of blended 5% renewable gas to the demonstration area.
What renewable electricity will be used at HyP SA?
Electricity will be purchased from the South Australian electricity network. AGN will also purchase sufficient quantities of Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) to offset the electricity used and ensure the 5% hydrogen blended with natural gas is ‘renewable’.
Will hydrogen be stored at HyP SA?
Yes. A small amount of hydrogen (approximately 40kg) will be stored onsite at the Tonsley Innovation District in a purpose built vessel.
About Blended 5% Renewable Gas
What does the 5% renewable blended gas consist of?
The gas blend will consist of 5% renewable hydrogen and natural gas.
The hydrogen produced at HyP SA is a renewable gas because it is produced from water and renewable electricity (AGN will purchase Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) to offset the amount of electricity used and ensure the 5% hydrogen blend is renewable).
Will the 5% renewable hydrogen component increase?
No, we will not go beyond 5% renewable hydrogen blend for the duration of the project.
Why is the renewable hydrogen level set at 5%?
Although projects overseas are injecting up to 20% hydrogen, 5% has been identified by AGN as an appropriate first step in our transition, showing how we can use existing hydrogen production technology in South Australia to move towards delivering cleaner energy.
Outside of this project, we will look to increase volumes of renewable gas supplied via our networks and reduce carbon emissions.
How will you ensure the correct blend is maintained?
A blending unit will be installed at the HyP SA facility to add renewable hydrogen to the existing natural gas supply as it flows into the Mitchell Park network.
This equipment will be designed and installed by specialists to make sure:
- the blend rate of 5% is not exceeded
- the gases are mixed effectively
- gas supply is always maintained to customers.
How is hydrogen made?
We will make hydrogen using an electrolyser, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity. The process by which this occurs is known as electrolysis. The electrolysis process separates the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen which are then reformed back into water vapour when you burn it, releasing energy as heat.
This process has been around for a long time, first appearing in the 1800s and electrolysers are in used around the world today.
What equipment is required to make hydrogen?
The key piece of equipment at the HyP SA site at Tonsley is the 1.25MW Siemens PEM (proton exchange membrane) electrolyser. This equipment will use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Siemens has installed a number of these units across the world. These units are high efficiency, produce high purity hydrogen, are low maintenance and reliable.
Construction of HyP SA is subject to approval of our Development Application.
Other equipment at Tonsley include:
- electrical supply transformers and switches
- water and hydrogen purification equipment
- hydrogen/natural gas blending equipment
- gas quality analysis equipment
- heat exchangers
- storage vessel
Which local water resource is being used?
We will connect to the SA Water network to source water for this facility.
There is no interaction between HyP SA and the water network and water table. Water is simply delivered to site as you would have it delivered to your house.
How much water will be used to produce the renewable hydrogen?
The water volumes consumed to produce hydrogen are very low: 300 litres per hour, or the equivalent of a 30 minute shower using a low flow shower head.
For context, converting all gas supplied via the South Australian gas network to hydrogen using electrolysis would result in an increase in the state’s water consumption of around 2%.
How will the Hydrogen be stored?
HyP SA will store the hydrogen on site in a purpose-built vessel.
HyP SA can produce a maximum of 20kg per hour. On average, we will produce 40-60kg per day for supply to customers using our distribution network. We will also have the capacity to store approximately 40kg on site.
What else could the hydrogen be used for?
We are considering supplying hydrogen to alternate markets, including transport and industry. This would occur via tube trailers, sometimes referred to as truck and trailers (long storage tubes on the back of semi-trailers) which is a common mode of transport for hydrogen to industry today.
Hydrogen and Safety
Is the use of hydrogen as safe as natural gas?
We’re confident that blending of 5% renewable hydrogen with natural gas poses no greater risk than our 100% natural gas networks.
Our Development Application for the HyP SA facility has been submitted and we would have received all other necessary Government and Regulatory approvals before first production.
Hydrogen like all other fuels is flammable, but like natural gas and petrol, if proper guidelines are followed hydrogen can be used safely. We are highly experienced at safely operating gas infrastructure.
Why did we stop using Towns Gas, which contained hydrogen, in the 1970s?
From 1861 until 1969, South Australians relied upon Towns Gas to meet demand. Towns Gas was manufactured from coal and consisted of 50-60% hydrogen. Some places such as Hong Kong and Singapore still rely on Towns Gas.
We switched from Towns Gas upon the discovery of natural gas, because natural gas was considered more reliable and economic. Today we know that blended gas is the first step towards lowering carbon emissions and that the cost of producing hydrogen is decreasing.
Hydrogen is known to be highly explosive – does the gas blend make leaks more dangerous?
The blended 5% renewable gas will pose no greater risk than using 100% natural gas. The characteristics of blended gas remain consistent with the Australian Standard for natural gas supply.
Hydrogen and natural gas are both explosive – it is this property, its ability to burn, that makes it so useful in providing energy.
Pure hydrogen has a wider flammability range of concentrations in air (4%-75% hydrogen in air), compared with natural gas (5-15%), but when blended in small amounts with natural gas, does not have a significant impact on the flammability range. Hydrogen is also lighter than natural gas meaning it disperses more quickly, which helps to reduce the potential for explosion.
Hydrogen is invisible and doesn't smell, how will we know if there is a leak?
Neither hydrogen nor natural gas smell in their normal state.
Natural gas supplied via the gas network contains a special odorant to give it its distinctive smell, so that leaks can be detected. Adding some hydrogen to natural gas will not change the effectiveness of the odorant. If there is a leak, you will still detect the ‘natural gas’ smell.
If you smell natural gas, report the leak immediately by calling the 24-hour 1800 GAS LEAK (1800 427 532).
There are also other routine gas safety measures in place on the gas network, including regular leak detection surveys, which use specialist equipment. These surveys will continue in the project zone as is normal in the rest of the network.
What systems are in place to ensure safe storage and production of hydrogen – so there are no explosions?
We have extensive experience in operating gas infrastructure safely and will ensure hydrogen is produced and handled safely through:
- Safety systems installed to monitor the plant’s operating parameters
- Continuous monitoring of the plant from our Operations Control Room, with the ability for remote shut-down
- Emergency systems in place to ensure the plant shuts down safely if a problem is identified
- Leak detection and response systems
Gas Safety Advice
Will the gas safety advice be different when hydrogen is added?
Gas safety advice for customers remains the same during the project. The number you call during an emergency remains the same at 1800 GAS LEAK (1800 427 532).
What happens if the gas pipes fail?
The introduction of hydrogen into our network will not cause our gas pipes to leak. On occasion gas pipes do leak for other reasons though, such as damage from tree roots or damage by someone hitting the main.
Should a leak occur in the project area, our response and safety procedures remain the same.
Hydrogen use Around Australia and the World
Where else in Australia is hydrogen technology being used?
Hydrogen has long been used in Australia as a fuel for industry (such as steel making and fertilisers) and for oil refining.
Over the past two years, using hydrogen as a direct energy source has gained momentum around the word, as we look to transition away from fossil fuels to carbon-free alternatives.
In mid-2017, the South Australian Government worked with industry to develop a Hydrogen Roadmap for potential investors and to guide the development of South Australia’s hydrogen economy.
In late-2018, all Australian Governments agreed to develop a National Hydrogen Strategy, under the leadership of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel. The Strategy recognises hydrogen’s ability to decarbonise gas, power and transport and to underpin a new growth sector, with jobs and wider economic benefits.
It is timely for us to pursue hydrogen now, as the need to decarbonise grows and as the costs of technology (such as electrolysers) is reducing.
What are other hydrogen projects in Australia?
- The Western Sydney Green Gas Project in New South Wales, a 500kW electrolyser producing hydrogen for injection into gas network and refuelling.
- The Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Western Australia which will produce, store and use hydrogen in a commercial scale micro grid.
- The Evoenergy and Canberra Institute of Technology Hydrogen test facility.
- The Mawson Lakes Renewable Energy System incorporates hydrogen fuel cell, electrolyser, batteries, thermal energy storage and solar PV to produce energy for the campus – it is expected to be completed in 2019.
- The Crystal Brook Hydrogen Super Hub in Crystal Brook, South Australia will combine storage, solar and wind, with up to 50MW of hydrogen production capability (pending feasibility studies).
- The proposed H2U Port Lincoln facility integrates a 15MW electrolyser, an ammonia production facility, a hydrogen gas-fired turbine and a fuel cell.
Where else around the world is Hydrogen used?
Hydrogen as a clean energy source is already being used in Japan, South Korea, Europe, China and the United States, both as 100% hydrogen and blended with natural gas:
- A project in Amerland in the Netherlands was safely undertaken to inject hydrogen at up to 20% volume into their natural gas grid for use by domestic consumers
- A trial was successfully carried out by E.ON Technologies in the Klanxbüll/Neukirchen region of Germany where around 170 gas customers were supplied with a natural gas blend containing up to 10% volume hydrogen
- The GRHYD project in France involves injecting up to 20% volume hydrogen into natural gas to deliver to around 100 domestic customers and a hospital
- In the UK, the HyDeploy project will inject a 20% blend of hydrogen to two project areas of 750 customers in 2020
- The UK are also undertaking studies on the full conversion of gas networks to 100% hydrogen
- Several countries such as Japan, South Korea have hydrogen strategies outlining hydrogen use in sectors such as transport, power generation and businesses and homes
- The upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics are being framed as the ‘Green Olympics’ and will reportedly rely on hydrogen to power vehicles and to potentially for the Olympic Torch
Who is Responsible for the Project
Who is involved with the project?
AGN has ultimate responsibility for building and operating the project.
We are supported by:
- The South Australian Government which has provided $4.9 million for the project
- APA Group which works on our networks on our behalf – you may see APA staff in your street working on the network
- Siemens which is supplying the electrolyser
- Valmec and GPA, which will design and construct the HyP SA facility
- KPMG which assisted us to develop the initial project proposal
How are AGN's operations regulated?
Our service to customers and the community in terms of technical and service aspects are regulated by the Office of the Technical Regulator (OTR), and Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA). Our economic regulator is the Australian Energy Regulator.
Will There be Any Changes to the Existing Gas Network?
Are there any works to the existing gas network that need to occur?
Over the coming months you will notice the hydrogen production unit and other supporting equipment being constructed at HyP SA within the Tonsley Innovation District.
You may also notice some works occurring at the corner of McInerney Avenue and Sturt Road to isolate/separate the existing gas network and at the eastern end of Alawoona Avenue to install a new valve. This work is being undertaken to isolate the demonstration area which allows us to ensure a consistent blend of 5% renewable hydrogen is supplied to consumers in the demonstration area and to allow us to engage directly and meaningfully with these customers.
Will the existing gas infrastructure network cater for hydrogen?
All of the pipes in the project zone, as well as the majority of our South Australian network, are new generation polyethylene and are suitable for transporting up to 100% hydrogen. This project will only have a maximum 5% renewable hydrogen blend.
The Long-Term Plan of the Project
If I don't live in the zoned area of the project, can I still receive the blended 5% renewable gas?
Not at this stage, only those within the project zone will receive the blended 5% renewable gas.
We are however actively pursuing other hydrogen developments, so it won’t be too long before more customers are receiving a renewable hydrogen blend.
What are the longer terms plans for AGN to roll this out across South Australia and around Australia?
Our Vision is to deliver 100% renewable gas to all customers on our networks. This project is the first step in achieving this Vision.
We are actively pursuing additional hydrogen projects with a view to blending more hydrogen into our South Australian and other Australian networks.
We are also actively participating in the Future Fuels CRC and in the development of the National Hydrogen Strategy with a view to progressing the hydrogen industry.
What happens to the project in mid 2025?
The initial project period is for five years. At this time, the project benefits will be assessed with consideration given to the future supply of blended gas to residential areas.
We may consider blending hydrogen from HyP SA into other parts of our network or back into the project area beyond 2025, and/or supplying hydrogen to other markets such as transport and industry, but we will engage with our customers and stakeholders before this occurs.