Over the past hundred years, the Western Australian Kimberley region has observed a worrying transformation in its landscape and its effects have been catastrophic. To combat the region’s challenges, Kimberley Clean Energy has partnered with Patriot Hydrogen.
Kimberley Clean Energy has engaged Patriot to provide energy solutions that will enable a large-scale rehabilitation plan aimed at restoring its natural grasslands, creating renewable power and aiding in the economic development of the region.
Research into West Kimberley has shown it was once known for its vast grasslands over 120 years ago. Today, this is no longer the case as a result of the domination of native Acacia Tumida and Acacia Eriopoda.
Experts note that the increase in wattle came as a result of the change in fire regime. The growth of the native acacias has catalysed extreme changes to the area which are worrying for the residents of the region.
The effects of the domination of these plants have been observed in areas such as water tables. Lower water tables have occurred due to the invasive plants having large water requirements. This has led to a decrease in the abundance of natural pools and water sources in order to sustain the Acacias.
The change in water levels has also negatively affected wildlife as they no longer have access to freshwater. We have observed these effects on endangered sawfish as well as many other vulnerable species.
The Acacia trees are also highly flammable, making their rapid growth very worrying. This is a concern as the abundance of Acacias has led to an increase in bushfires in the region. Not only is this a major safety threat to the people living in nearby communities but it is also devastating for the regional wildlife. The removal of the Acacias will reduce the frequency and power of bushfires in the area.
On the other hand, the highly flammable nature of the Acacias makes them a valuable biomass resource to be used for renewable energy in regional towns across the Kimberley. These forests last around 4 years before they are burnt in seasonal fires, wasting all the energy which could have been put to better use.
By taking these trees and turning the material into a biomass resource, we are able to harness the energy stored in the trees without it being detrimental to wildlife and the surrounding landscape.
The plan is to use these invasive species as biomass for green hydrogen, which will power the region’s major regional towns and communities. This will be beneficial as the energy is both cheaper and better for the environment.
The process of energy generation will be first harvesting and processing existing acacias on-site into biomass. This biomass is then chipped, dried and sorted for power generation or exportation.
Patriot will be the project’s green hydrogen supplier, with plans to produce the gas by taking the Acacia through their state-of-the-art gasification process. This hydrogen has the potential to be used for energy production or transport fuels. It can also be translated to other sectors such as aiding the production of urea or liquid ammonia fertiliser across Western Australia.
As a by-product of hydrogen, biochar is also created which removes carbon from the atmosphere and can also be used in agriculture for fertiliser and nutritious feedstock. The use of hydrogen has major benefits for the environment such as cutting diesel usage by 33% as well as switching to a renewable energy source. The transition will also save a significant amount of money.
The involvement of Patriot Hydrogen in the project has many advantages such as clean, cheap energy, landscape preservation, as well as cheap and high-quality farming inputs.
Overall, this project brings numerous benefits to the West Kimberley region and to Western Australia as a whole. This project’s influence will span over many different sectors such as energy, fuel, agriculture, bushfire reduction, equity establishment and land protection.
Kimberley Clean Energy and Patriot Hydrogen recognise the worrying impacts the native Acacias have on the region and look forward to executing their transformation strategy to revitalise the area.