Nirranda South could become home to an underground hydrogen storage research facility, but it would be years before that happened.
The site, just off the Great Ocean Road, is already home to an underground carbon storage research facility and researchers say it was a logical location if the pioneering research progressed past the first stage.
CO2CRC, along with the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, are collaborating on a research project into the technical development of geological storage of hydrogen in Australia.
CO2CRC chief executive Dr Matthias Raab said the study was initially a desktop study to see if it was even possible to store hydrogen underground, but it was "logical" to assume the Nirranda South site would be considered as a location to put the research into practice.
But it would have to clear a number of rigorous hurdles to make sure regulators, councils and landowners were onboard, he said.
"There's nothing definitive," he said.
But the infrastructure and geological features were already there at the Nirranda South site, he said.
The research project is a critical step towards a clean energy transition, Mr Raab said.
An emission-free "clean and green" hydrogen industry in Australia is expected to increase 40 per cent by 2030 with potential export values of $5.7 billion by 2040.
To facilitate a hydrogen supply chain greater than 100,000 tonnes of scale required for a net-zero future and export market, hydrogen would need to be stored in geological formations.
And underground hydrogen storage could provide the much-needed capacity to balance supply and demand and seasonal fluctuations.
Much like the way gas from the Otway Basin was stored underground near Port Campbell, Dr Raab said they were investigating the potential to store hydrogen underground as an alternative to using tanks above ground.
He said surface hydrogen storage facilities, such as pipelines or tanks, would not have the sufficient storage capacity for future projected demand.
Dr Raab said Australia had the technical knowledge and natural resources to become a global leader in hydrogen production and export.
"Key to the successful implementation of a full-scale hydrogen economy requires large-scale storage, and geological formations present an ideal solution," he said.
"This Underground Hydrogen Storage Project will fortify Australia's position as a technical leader in the global transition to a hydrogen economy and net-zero future."
The initial study aimed to answer key technical issues, including fundamental hydrogen storage processes, hydrogen withdrawal effectiveness and integration of UHS between hydrogen production and downstream distribution.
This study is funded by Beyond H2, a foundation member of the NERA Clayton Hydrogen Technology Cluster.
CO2CRC senior manager of technology development Dr Max Watson said that Australia had vast porous geological storage resources that are proven storage formations for methane and CO2.
"These same underground storage formations can provide large-scale and long-term hydrogen storage options to enable Australia to become a leading global exporter of hydrogen," he said.
"CO2CRC's pioneering research into underground hydrogen storage in Australia will be fundamental in the development of Australia's hydrogen economy."
The project will develop a clear pathway for a field demonstration of underground hydrogen storage.
The study will produce an optimised hydrogen storage site development methodology, with methods to screen, select, develop, and operate suitable hydrogen storage sites at commercial scale.
A pre-feasibility study, it aims to set the foundations for a hydrogen facility demonstration that will safely store and withdraw hydrogen from a geological storage reservoir.
CSIRO research group leader Allison Hortle said that underground storage allowed large volumes of hydrogen to be stored to manage seasonal variation in demand.
"Subsurface storage is potentially a safer, lower cost option to surface storage, making use of Australia's existing geological formations," she said.
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