Sumitomo joins Australia-toJapan liquefied hydrogen transport project

31, Oct. 2019

SYDNEY, NNA - Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp. is joining a pilot project to develop a supply chain of liquefying hydrogen from brown coal from a mine in Australia and shipping it to Japan.

The “Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Project” is being undertaken by four other Japanese companies – Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Electric Power Development Co., Iwatani Corp. and Marubeni Corp. – as well as Australian power and gas provider AGL Energy Ltd., Tokyo-based Sumitomo said in a press statement released on Monday.

In the project, the six companies will carry out a pilot demonstration of hydrogen refining, liquefaction, inland transportation and marine carrier transport as well as a commercialization study of this international supply chain, the statement said.

The hydrogen will be produced from lignite mined in the Latrobe Valley in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria, it added.

Sumitomo will collect and store carbon dioxide emitted from the process of hydrogen refining. It will also cooperate with Victoria state in an initiative to recover and store carbon dioxide related to the hydrogen supply chain, said the statement.

Construction facilities for the project started in early 2019 and the first trial of hydrogen production and shipment are expected to be carried out between 2020 and 2021.

“We have been studying the hydrogen project for some time and been approached by the existing participants in the project,” a Sumitomo spokeswoman told NNA.

“We recognize many possibilities concerning the hydrogen business in Australia, so we want to take on other projects accordingly,” she added.

Sumitomo will play a leading role in communicating the “CarbonNet Project”, which is managed by Victoria as well as the Australian government to establish an integrated CO2-free hydrogen supply chain, the spokeswoman said.

Specifically, the company will monitor the progress in the initiative, identify major challenges in the commercial, technical and legal aspects, and propose measures to deal with them, she said.

During the pilot phase, Kawasaki Heavy and Iwatani, an energy conglomerate, will oversee construction of a liquefied hydrogen loading terminal and evaluate its operations while Electric Power Development will be responsible for lignite gasification and hydrogen production, according to the press release.

Another trading house - Marubeni - will develop a roadmap for building the hydrogen supply chain for commercial operations. AGL will supply brown coal and provide a facility for lignite gasification.

As the various players are already assigned to different tasks, Sumitomo may not be actively involved in any of the field, but it will share information on overall operations with all the participants, said the spokesman.