Forefront of the hydrogen revolution – First Autonomous and Zero-Emission Power Source

Blue Diamond Machinery

As the Australian mining industry transitions to clean energy, mine sites are taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint and reach net-zero emissions over the next few decades.

Decarbonisation and sustainability goals remain the focus for the mining majors, notably BHP targeting a 30% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, Rio Tinto aiming for 15% and Fortescue Metals Group committing to net zero (which includes Scope 3) by 2040.

Most of Australia’s emissions stem from energy production, transport, agriculture and industrial processes, with about 90% of the world’s carbon emissions coming from the burning of fossil fuels, according to the CSIRO.

Within the context of energy production in Australian mining, the majority of mine sites in remote locations rely on diesel generators as prime solution for power generation due to the lack of grid connectivity.

The Australian Mining Review spoke to Blue Diamond Machinery director Justin Pitts about powerful solutions currently available for the Australian mining industry to transition to cleaner energy and reduce carbon emissions through the use of cost-effective and practical energy alternatives.

Autonomous and Zero-Emission Hydrogen Generator

Santos"Sustainable Buggy Charging
Santos: Sustainable Buggy Charging – Australian oil and gas producer Santos partnered with Blue Diamond Machinery to explore eco-friendly and sustainable charging options for their on-site electrical buggies that transport the team around their large Moonba facility in South Australia.

Introducing the GEH2, Australia’s first zero- emission hydrogen generator.

While traditional generators run on diesel, gas and fossil fuels, this world-first autonomous and carbon-free power source has been designed to replace typical gensets in a variety of settings and operations, including mobile, prime and standby applications.

What this means for mine sites is that there are no CO2, fine particulate matter nor noise emissions – the only output is a little water and some heat.

Each of the GEH2 unit features a lithium-ion phosphate battery, the latest generation Toyota fuel cell and functions just like a traditional generator, delivering strong, reliable, efficient power supply through instant start-up, without relying on the electricity grid.

The GEH2 provides 100kVA/80kW of clean, quiet and instant power in a 3350L x 2200H x 1100W and 4t casing, coupled with a 44kWh buffer battery.

There is on-board intelligence software that monitors via the cloud and offers direct notification, including a remote interface for mine site staff on-the-go.

Each unit is equipped with event-driven electrical outlets, standardised frequency and voltage levels (230V / 400V – 50Hz & 60Hz).

The state-of-the-art GEH2 provides scalable power via modular units, perfect for off-grid, remote and isolated settings, construction sites, confined spaces (mine sites and tunnels), electrical vehicle (EV) charging, grid maintenance, emergency applications, telecom, peak shaving, back-up power and large-scale events.

Flexible implementation allows the GEH2 hydrogen generator to connect with other diesel or gas generators, even the grid, for continuous supply of autonomous energy.

Strategic Global Solutions Powering GEH2 Technology

Blue Diamond has partnered with French company EODev (Energy Observer Developments) to become the exclusive Australian distributor for the GEH2 hydrogen generator.

EODev is the company behind the iconic Parisian landmark, the Eiffel Tower, being lit up in green as part of the “Paris de l’hydrogène” event organised by Energy Observer in mid- 2021.

The green light symbolised the certified renewable hydrogen that was used to power the Toyota PEM fuel cell inside the GEH2 generator, developed by EODev, and powered by the supply of renewable hydrogen from Air Liquide.

With the GEH2 unit’s ability to generate hydrogen gas on-site, it eliminates the logistical complexities and costs associated with the transportation and storage of hydrogen .

Hydrogen mobility, along with the use of GEH2 as a substitute for the Paris’ electricity grid, shows the power of this first autonomous and zero-emission GEH2 hydrogen generator to produce carbon-free power to illuminate the French landmark.

The current 100kVA hydrogen generator can power a 30-person mine camp, with EODev planning to release 200kVA and 500kVA versions of the hydrogen generator in the near future.

The Toyota fuel cell which equips the GEH2 is a module similar to the one developed by the Japanese brand, world-renowned for its reliability and exceptional life span, specifically for its hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, the Toyota Mirai. Toyota Motor Europe president and chief executive Matt Harrison says that “hydrogen fuel cell technology will play a key role to enable Toyota to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050”.

Fuelling the 2023 Formula 1 Australian

Santos"Sustainable Buggy Charging
Two GEH2 hydrogen-fuelled generators running at the Formula 1® 2023 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Grand PrixCloser to home, Blue Diamond recently launched Australia’s first hydrogen power solution at the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix 2023 in Melbourne.

Attended by just under 500,000 people over four days, the technical hub for this large sporting event was powered by just two 100kVA GEH2 electro-hydrogen generators, compared with a plethora of diesel generators elsewhere on-site powering other applications.

“Blue Diamond’s proven capacity to deploy lower carbon technologies at large-scale events like the Grand Prix will ultimately contribute to decarbonisation efforts,” says Justin.

Though the GEH2 was regarded as low emission at the Grand Prix, it could potentially operate 100% emission-free once the supply of green hydrogen becomes more accessible.

Hydrogen, the most abundant element on earth, is rapidly becoming a market disruptor and gaining huge attention.

Europe’s largest equipment rental company LOXAM has already embraced the use of this new technology by offering the GEH2 hydrogen generator for hire.

The same is happening in the US market through United Rentals.

“Hydrogen is real and it is happening,” says Justin.

“It is an alternative to fossil fuels and provides energy security. There is phenomenal interest in hydrogen generators and we are on the pathway to making it commercially viable.”

Economies of Scale

Beyond the environmental benefits, the GEH2 hydrogen generator presents a compelling economic case for mining companies.

With lithium-ion batteries and hybrid power solutions now commercially viable and hydrogen production costs projected to decrease in the coming years, these generators offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional diesel-powered systems.

“In the medium term, the industry target is that the price of hydrogen will drop and reach a level that is acceptable to many customers,” says Justin.

“Once hydrogen goes below $10/kg, it’ll be much cheaper to run than diesel.

“There is a clear pathway to the number of projects coming online in the next two-tofive year period and, in this medium-term, the price parity between diesel and hydrogen is going to cross over and at that point these will be cheaper to run in many applications than a diesel generator.”

Australian Generator Market

Blue Diamond Machinery’s flagship products include diesel generators as well as being the exclusive national distributor of the Japanese-made Denyo generators.

Diesel generator use make up 19% of Australia’s overall CO2 emissions and use approximately 2.5b L of diesel annually.

Of that, a total of 30% of Australia’s diesel use comes from the mining and construction industries.

The Federal Government wants to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Blue Diamond is spearheading the early adoption of new technologies in the Australian generator market.

The inaugural GEH2 hydrogen generator supplies clean energy, producing energy without any emissions of CO2, fine particles, smells and noise – it only rejects water and heat.

Early Adopter: Fortescue Future Industries

There is currently insufficient green hydrogen at the right price commercially and Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has emerged as a trailblazer by producing its own green hydrogen on-site.

Parent company Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) has targets to fully decarbonise its operations and reach net zero emissions by 2030.

Hence the FFI was created, which harnesses the world’s renewable energy resources, like solar, wind, hydropower or geothermal energy, to produce renewable electricity, green hydrogen, green ammonia, green iron and other green industrial products.

Green hydrogen is manually produced through a process called electrolysis by running electricity from renewable energy resources through demineralised water, thereby splitting the water into green hydrogen and oxygen.

The resulting oxygen is released back into the atmosphere and the green hydrogen, due to zero carbon dioxide emissions, is able to be used domestically or exported for uses around the globe.

FFI says green hydrogen is the fastest way to decarbonise Fortescue’s mining and shipping fleet, including trucks, drill rigs and trains, with chief executive Mark Hutcinson saying there is “an urgency to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia and support global decarbonisation as quickly as possible”.

Hydrogen Headstart

The Federal Government recently announced the $2b Hydrogen Headstart program as part of its May 2023 Federal Budget to accelerate Australia’s renewable hydrogen industry and position the country as a world-leading hydrogen producer and exporter.

The Program underwrites the biggest green hydrogen projects in Australia and ensures large-scale hydrogen projects already in development can get off the ground.

Funding will close the commercial gap between the cost of hydrogen production from renewables and its current market price.

The Program aims to support two to three flagship projects which could provide up to 1GW of hydrogen electrolyser capacity.

Latest McKinsey analysis and the Federal Department of Climate Change Energy Environment and Water (DCCEEW) modelling shows that Australia’s hydrogen industry could generate $50b in additional gross domestic product (GDP) and create more than 13,000 regional jobs and a further 13,000 jobs from construction of new renewable energy infrastructure by 2050, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Blue Diamond: Net Zero Equipment

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A young girl enjoying her lunch near the exhaust of a GEH2 hydrogen generator, under the load at the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix 2023. All the units emit water and vapour. It is hard to imagine someone eating her lunch near the exhaust of a diesel generator.

Blue Diamond has been providing power, air and industrial solutions for a decade.

After seeing the growing need for equipment to help its mining and industrial customers reduce carbon emissions, the company launched its new range of Net Zero equipment to provide a high-end range of green solutions which include hydrogen, battery energy storage, low emissions and solar technologies, hybrid power systems and electric site utility and transport vehicles.

All are backed by industry-leading engineering and technical know-how.

“Blue Diamond Machinery is committed to being at the forefront of the energy transition and assisting in Australia’s commitment to net zero carbon emission by 2050,” says Justin.

As seen by its strategic partnerships with EODev and Toyota, the company is heavily investing in alternative power solutions to the traditional diesel offerings.

“We believe there will need to be a variety of solutions available to achieve this goal of net zero, particularly in relation to reducing carbon emissions from powering mining and construction sites,” Justin added.

“Blue Diamond aims to be at the forefront of these solutions through a range of offerings including hybrid generators, energy storage systems (ESS) and hydrogen powered generators.”