According to The Australian Financial Review, AGL Energy will host a $500 million trial led by Japanese giant Kawasaki Heavy Industries to convert Victorian brown coal into liquid hydrogen for export in what represents a major scaling-up of efforts to commercialise the clean energy technology.
In the initiative to be announced on Thursday at AGL's Loy Yang A coal generator in the Latrobe Valley, Kawasaki will be joined by electricity major J-Power, industrial gases producer Iwatani and Japanese government organisations.
Funding or other support is expected also to come from the Australian federal and Victorian state governments, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and federal ministers Michaelia Cash and Josh Frydenberg all likely to be at the event.
The joint drive by Australia and Japan to pursue opportunities in the hydrogen supply chain received a new lease of life in January when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Japan's Shinzo Abe signed a bilateral pact on energy co-operation that singled out the technology.
AGL chief executive Andy Vesey last Friday foreshadowed the announcement of the Japanese-backed project at Loy Yang, and also voiced interest in exploring the use of surplus renewable energy – for example, wind power generated at night – to produce hydrogen via electrolysis.
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