The University of New South Wales and other universities in Australia will be conducting a preliminary study on the conversion of excess renewable energy to generate chemicals and feedstocks for industries. The plan of these institutions is to manufacture green hydrogen and ammonia to minimize the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Researchers from the University of New South Wales with the lead scientist, Rose Amal, from the School of Chemical Engineering, will be experimenting on the conversion of excess renewable energy into chemicals and feedstock for the New South Wales industries. The researchers called the study the NSW Power-to-X (P2X) Industry Feasibility Study and will facilitate the energy sector’s decarbonization. When solar energy, wind energy, and other renewables are available in excess, their conversion to these raw materials can help the manufacturing sector avoid depending on the fossilized matter for feedstocks and chemicals.
P2X technology converts excess renewable energy into chemical energy for storage purposes. For example, solar energy can be converted to green hydrogen, ammonia, methane, which can be then reconverted to electricity for consumption. The advantage of this technology is that it facilitates the future supply of electricity in circumstances when there is no sun or wind. The UNSW is spearheading the research with chemical engineers from different institutions making their technological contributions to the experiment. The scientists managed to combine air, water, and solar energy under high temperatures and pressure to generate ammonia gas.
Amal explained that manufacturing these chemicals takes up a lot of energy, encouraging the developers to utilize the available and affordable solar energy. She added that the scientists would be working around renewable energy and the various forms in which they can store the energy or export it to other regions. Moreover, the technology offers scientists an opportunity to conduct deep decarbonization into industries, businesses, and energy utilities to mitigate climate change problems. Countries like Germany, South Korea, and Japan are already setting up utilities in Australia where they can develop renewable energy and transfer it to their countries. Amal advised the government and local leadership to invest in this technology to boost their transition to clean energy and meet the Paris Agreement regulations on climate change. The chief engineer and scientist of NSW, Hugh Durrant-Whyte, stated that venturing into the P2X sector will motivate the advancement of the hydrogen industry, resolving the environmental problems associated with hydrogen production from fossil fuels. He added that the increasing demand for hydrogen has promoted the exploration and advancement of this technology.