Australian hydrogen company develops large-scale storage and transport solutions

Australia’s Provaris Energy (Provaris) develops vessels and floating bulk-scale storage solutions that hold compressed green hydrogen.

The company’s novel design is helping to build a complete green hydrogen supply chain. Australia is expected to be the largest net-exporter of hydrogen by 2050, according to a recent study by the International Energy Agency’s 2022 World Energy Outlook.

Provaris’ first compressed hydrogen ship received design approval from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) in December 2022. Provaris expects to enter shipbuilding contracts in early 2024. This should enable ships to begin operations in 2027.

‘We believe we have first-mover advantage in that timescale,’ says Provaris Managing Director Martin Carolan. ‘It will be a world-first for bulk-scale marine transportation of compressed hydrogen – while also being cost competitive.’

The advantages of compressed hydrogen

Provaris believes compressed hydrogen shipping will be an important step that can help solve the current hydrogen supply chain challenge and enable the hydrogen economy to scale-up.

‘The compression technology is not new,’ points out Carolan. ‘It has been used for onshore storage applications for fifty years. What is unique is the idea of using compression to transport hydrogen in large-scale containment tanks which are integrated into a standard MR [medium range] or LR [long range] tanker.’

The H2Neo, due in 2027, will have a carrying capacity of 26,000m3 (430 tonnes). The larger H2Max, due in 2030, will have a capacity up to 120,000m3 (2,000 tonnes).

Provaris’s modelling indicates that shipping compressed hydrogen can deliver the lowest cost of transportation for ranges up to 2000–3000 nautical miles. That makes it ideal for hydrogen producers who want to transport hydrogen within their own region.

For Provaris, that means looking to markets in Asia for offtake from its project under development in the Tiwi Islands, Australia. In European markets, Provaris has announced collaborations with partners to develop green hydrogen supply chains for delivery to ports that are set to become hydrogen ready.

Shipping provides better access to remote and off-grid resources

Prospects look bright, according to Provaris.

Provaris’ ships will utilise electric drive propulsion enabling a hybrid of battery and low-emission fuels. They will ultimately be fuelled by hydrogen, providing a pathway to zero-emission shipping.

Compression offers a low-capex route to access remote or off-grid energy resources. This would enable access to ‘stranded renewables’, such as northern hydro-electricity generators.

Floating storage platform helps create end-to-end supply chain solution

Storage capacity is a major supply chain issue for renewables. Provaris aims to tackle this too. Its floating storage solution, the H2Leo, has recently received ABS approval-in-principle. The vessel will have the capacity to store 300–600 tonnes of compressed hydrogen. 

Carolan explains that the H2Leo can lower the cost of Provaris’ own supply chain.

‘We now also have requests for the use of H2leo as storage capacity for other transport vectors such as ammonia,’ he says. ‘Floating storage is much less capital intensive compared to an onshore option at the same scale.’

Austrade helps raise awareness of the technology

Provaris recently established an office in Norway to support its projects in European and Nordic markets. ‘Austrade has been excellent for us,’ says Carolan. ‘They’ve been able to introduce us and socialise our business model to potential partners.

‘It’s been helpful to have Austrade’s recommendation to be on the main stage at the World Hydrogen Summit (WHS). As a relatively small company, that sort of profiling has been huge. And we have developed high quality one-on-one interactions coming out of last year’s event.’

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