While BP and the Queensland government announced that they would open the first hydrogen filling station in a truck stop in Brisbane, Viva Energy announced it had  taken further significant steps towards delivering its first hydrogen refuelling station in Geelong to service some of Australia’s most prominent commercial transport fleets.

Viva said its Geelong project has passed several significant milestones and is on track for delivery late next year.

The company revealed it  had placed orders for a 2.5MW electrolyser for the creation of green hydrogen as well as a fast-fuelling hydrogen dispensing system capable of refuelling multiple vehicles at once.

The company claims this equipment will be the first of its kind in the Australian market and is expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2023.

The containerised electrolyser is being provided by Nel Hydrogen US, a subsidiary of Nel ASA in Norway, together with its local partner ENGV, and is expected to be the largest in Australia by a considerable margin. Once installed, it will be at least twice the size of any other electrolyser producing green hydrogen in the country.

In addition, Viva Energy is partnering with Air Liquide for the provision of a ‘fast fill’ hydrogen refuelling package designed to refuel at least 10 trucks or busses consecutively. This leading-edge system will be the largest in Australia and will be capable of dispensing 300 kg of hydrogen in under two hours. This will provide Viva Energy’s hydrogen customers with a similar refuelling experience to today’s traditional service station.

The company said that together, this equipment will provide it with the capacity to generate and deliver more than 1,000 kilograms of green hydrogen per day, powering a fleet of at least 15 hydrogen fuel cell heavy vehicles.

Viva says these are critical first steps in its vision to establish Australia’s ‘most ambitious hydrogen mobility project’, which it says is expected to be the catalyst for a network of hydrogen refuelling stations reaching from Geelong and Melbourne to Sydney and Brisbane.

Its hydrogen mobility project was made possible through a $22.8 million funding grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $1 million from the Victorian Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Commercialisation Pathways Fund.

The company announced its hydrogen vision back in March when it named four foundation partners that have committed to the first seven hydrogen fuel cell heavy vehicles which will be refuelled at Viva’s hydrogen outlet. The company says it is continuing to engage with other potential partners keen to deploy hydrogen powered heavy vehicles and reduce their emissions.

Green hydrogen is not currently available in commercial, deliverable quantities in Australia, so Viva says its delivery model involves the production of green hydrogen onsite through the utilisation of renewable electricity and recycled water.

The electrolyser will produce hydrogen by using renewable electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The recycled water will be supplied from Barwon Water’s Northern Water Plant.

Viva Energy says it has extensive experience in the safe operation of high-voltage infrastructure and hydrogen at its nearby Geelong Refinery site and currently generates about 70 tonnes of hydrogen per day as part of the oil refining process.

While Viva says that this will be Australia’s first publicly accessible commercial hydrogen refuelling station, overseas the technology has been in use for more than 10 years and there are more than 680 hydrogen refuelling stations in 33 countries.

The company says the project illustrates the benefits of industry and government working together to address carbon emissions in the commercial road transport sector. It also ties in closely with the company’s ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and supports the company’s goal to help its customers meet their own sustainability targets.