In what is another step towards the establishment of a national hydrogen fuel  network, the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced  $22.8 million in funding to Viva Energy  to develop, build and operate its ‘New Energies Service Station’ in Geelong,  to support the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) in heavy fleets.

The Government says the  project will be built opposite Viva Energy’s petroleum refinery and incorporate a 2 MW electrolyser along with hydrogen compression, storage and dispensing infrastructure. The service station will also include 150 kW electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities.

ARENA’s funding will go towards both the renewable hydrogen and EV infrastructure, as well as to subsidise the purchase and operations of 15 hydrogen FCE vehicles s to help fast-track hydrogen fuel cell uptake.

ARENA says its funding for the FCEVs will be paid on the delivery of the vehicles.

Viva Energy’s $43.3 million project will allow for the procurement, delivery and operation of the hydrogen FCEVs to utilise renewable hydrogen from the New Energies Service Station. Over time, Viva Energy hopes to add traditional diesel refuelling on-site to allow drivers to witness FCEV charging.

All vehicles will be purchased and owned by project partners, including Toll Group, ComfortDelGro Corporation Australia, Cleanaway and Barwon Water which have all committed to purchase hydrogen FCEVs for their fleets, which include prime movers, wastewater and municipal waste collection vehicles and buses.

Locating the project adjacent to Viva Energy’s Geelong refinery provides a number of benefits to the project, including a high level of visibility, due to its proximity to major arterial roads and being within an existing industrial area, as well as access to high voltage infrastructure and access to recycled water from the nearby Barwon Water recycling plant for production of hydrogen.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project will help to accelerate the commercialisation pathways for FCEV fleets in Australia.

“We’re excited to be working with Viva Energy to build Australia’s first publicly available hydrogen refuelling station to independent fleets.

The experiences of Viva Energy and fleet vehicles using the renewable hydrogen produced onsite for refuelling will provide valuable insights into the operation of different types of hydrogen FCEV heavy vehicles.

This project will be a key opportunity for early uptake of commercially viable hydrogen and a service station model that could be replicated across Australia as the price of electrolyser technology drops,” he said.

Viva Energy CEO Scott Wyatt said: “This funding from ARENA has opened the door for Viva Energy to work with long-term customers to demonstrate the important role that hydrogen will play in the future of transportation in Australia. This project puts hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road to prove their value in day-to-day commercial operations while reducing the carbon footprint of the heavy vehicle transport we rely on every day.”

ARENA has previously funded light vehicle hydrogen FCEV projects with Toyota to build refuelling infrastructure at their repurposed Altona car manufacturing site to support passenger vehicles and forklifts, and BOC who will install a hydrogen refuelling station in Brisbane for passenger fleets. ARENA is also supporting Ark Energy to deploy five FCEV prime movers operating between its zinc refinery and the Port of Townsville.