New green ‘natural hydrogen’ may soon be coming from the ground in South Australia at low cost

‘Natural hydrogen’ is a term for naturally occurring hydrogen sourced from the ground at low cost with zero (or at least minimal) greenhouse gas emissions

There is a ‘goldrush’ by petrochemical companies currently going on in South Australia where they are looking to stake claims on and prove the existence of underground reserves of nearly pure hydrogen gas. The article touts a “Potential to drastically cut costs” of hydrogen production.

Despite the lack of research, Australians – and indeed a number of companies internationally – remain undeterred, likely because of the potential for natural hydrogen to be three to four times cheaper than that produced via electrolysis or gas reforming with carbon capture. Gold Hydrogen estimates it should be able to produce natural hydrogen for less than $2.30 per kg, compared to manufactured hydrogen projects being produced at greater than $6 per kg.

Queensland company Gold Hydrogen has been granted the right to explore approximately 9,500km2 in the southern part of the Yorke Peninsula through to Kangaroo Island in search of natural hydrogen deposits.Gold Hydrogen

Natural hydrogen exploration ‘boom’ snaps up one third of South Australia

by Bella Peacock, 02/02/2022 – in PV Magazine

South Australia has found itself at the heart of a 21st-century gold rush, though this time for naturally occurring hydrogen. Since February 2021, 18 exploration licenses have been granted or applied for in the state by six different companies searching for natural hydrogen

In a rapid escalation from zero activity in February last year, exploration companies are now scrambling to look for what they believe could be the cheapest, easiest way to get their hands on the much hyped “future fuel”: hydrogen.

In the last 12 months, six different companies have either been granted or applied for 18 Petroleum Exploration Licences across the state of South Australia, according to Australian energy consultancy EnergyQuest. Combined, the area under permit equates to around 570,000 square kilometres (km2) or 32% of the entire state, the consultancy has found, referring to the sudden influx as a “boom”.

Natural hydrogen

Until now, natural or native hydrogen has been largely overlooked – despite it being described as “widespread in nature” by natural hydrogen researcher Viacheslav Zgonnik in a 2020 paper. Natural hydrogen deposits form through chemical reactions underground, with Zgonnik saying the molecule has been detected at high concentrations, often as the major gas, in all types of geologic environments.

Read the complete article….

Caveat emptor. This could be good news in that a potential source of low or zero emissions hydrogen for power generation has been found that could replace natural gas. However, I suspect that most or all of the hydrogen will found to be associated with methane rich natural gas. My guess is that this will be used as an excuse by the fossil fuel industry members funding the exploration to produce and burn more natural gas with consequent greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere.

I would watch this very carefully, and would hope that by the time any concrete decisions need to be made regarding real hydrogen production projects that we will have replaced Capt. Humbug’s LNP Coalition Government with trustworthy people able to make sensible decisions where project approvals and he like are concerned.

Vote Climate One’s Traffic Light Voting System is designed to help you use our preferential voting system to elect these trustworthy people.

Posted by William P. Hall

Some call me a 'climate scientist'. I'm not. What I am is an 'Earth systems generalist'. Born in 1939, I grew up with passionate interests in both science and engineering. I learned to read from my father's university textbooks in geology and paleontology, and dreamed of building nuclear powered starships. Living on a yacht in Southern California I grew up surrounded by (and often immersed in) marine and estuarine ecosystems while my father worked in the aerospace engineering industry. After studying university physics for three years, dyslexia with numbers convinced me to change my focus to biology. I completed university as an evolutionary biologist (PhD Harvard, 1973). My principal research project involved understanding how species' genetic systems regulated the evolution and speciation of North America's largest and most widespread lizard genus. Then for several years as an academic biologist I taught a range of university subjects as diverse as systematics, biogeography, cytogenetics, comparative anatomy and marine biology. In Australia, from 1980, I was involved in various activities around the emerging and rapidly evolving microcomputing technologies culminating in 2 years involvement in the computerization of the emerging Bank of Melbourne. In 1990 I joined a startup engineering company that had just won the contract to build a new generation of 10 frigates for Australia and New Zealand. In 2007 I retired from the head office of Tenix Defence, then Australia's largest defence engineering contractor, after a 17½ year career as a documentation and knowledge management systems analyst and designer. At Tenix I reported to the R&D manager under the GM Engineering, and worked closely with support and systems engineers on the ANZAC Ship Project to solve documentation and engineering change management issues that risked the project 100s of millions of dollars in cost and years of schedule overruns. All 10 ships had been delivered on time, on budget to happy customers against the fixed-price and fixed schedule contract. Before, during, and after these two main gigs I also did a lot of other things that contribute to my general understanding of complex dynamical systems involving multiple components with non-linear and sometimes chaotically interacting components; e.g., 'Earth systems'. Earth's Climate System is the global heat engine driven by the transport and conversions of energy between the incoming solar radiation striking the planet, and the infrared radiation of heat away from the planet to the cold dark universe. As Climate Sentinel News Editor, my task is to identify and understand quirks and problems in the operation of this complex heat engine that threaten human existence, and explain to our readers how they can help to solve some of the critical issues that are threatening their own existence.

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