Ben Wilson

CEO, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group

The potential of hydrogen in decarbonising Australia’s gas and transport supply and supporting our electricity networks
Wednesday 23 May 2018, 11:30 – 12:45

Ben Wilson is Chief Executive Officer of Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) which includes the Dampier Bunbury Pipeline, Multinet Gas, and Australian Gas Networks. Together these assets make AGIG one of Australia’s largest gas infrastructure businesses, active nationwide, with 2 million distribution customers, 3,500 km of transmission pipelines, and 34,000 km of networks. Ben became CEO of AGN in 2015 and of DBP and MG in 2017.

Previously, Ben was the Director of Strategy and Regulation and Chief Financial Officer at UK Power Networks (UKPN), a large electricity distribution company in the UK with 8 million customers. At UKPN Ben’s responsibilities included negotiating UKPN’s 2015-2023 price control under Ofgem’s RIIO framework, and UKPN’s Business Transformation Program.
Before joining UKPN in 2011 Ben was a utilities investment banker for fifteen years, working in Europe, Asia and Latin America, most recently at Deutsche Bank.

Ben is a Director of the Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and is Chairman of the ENA’s Gas Committee.

Ben has a Bachelors Degree in Natural Science from Cambridge University in the UK.

Abstract Outline:
The Australian Government has committed to the Paris Agreement which seeks to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In response, the gas industry is on the verge of major transformational change as government, industry and communities work together towards a low carbon energy future.

AGIG is committed to being a leader in this transformation. We are working with industry, governments and stakeholders to progress studies, roadmaps and demonstration projects illustrating that the low-carbon technologies of biogas, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage can be deployed in Australia, to the benefit of all Australians.

Recent work of Gas Vision 2050 and Deloitte Access Economics’ (DAE’s) Decarbonising Gas Networks, in which AGIG played a lead role, shows that at a high level, Australia has the technologies and resources to decarbonise the gas (and transport) supply and concludes that decarbonised gas presents an opportunity to lower the overall costs of decarbonising the energy supply. That is, low carbon gas has a key role to play in balancing the energy trilemma of affordability, environment and security.

It is also clear that the deployment of electrolysers (a hydrogen production technology) may be able to provide network stability support to the electricity sector during times of excess solar production by offering a new (and substantial) market for renewable electricity and storing this energy as hydrogen in an existing, large battery – Australia’s gas networks.
The potential is significant, with the storage capacity of Australia’s gas network infrastructure the equivalent of 6 billion Tesla Powerwall batteries.1
It is now up to industry to deploy these technologies, which will require innovation and collaboration – with a clear focus on investing for the long term. The energy industry (electricity, gas and transport) needs to work together with all stakeholders to ensure this potential becomes a reality.

AGIG has recently been granted funding by the SA government to establish a 1.25MW electrolyser at the Tonsley Innovation District, for injection into our gas distribution networks. This project is called Hydrogen Park of South Australia (HyP SA). We are also seeking to establish a hydrogen Centre of Excellence as part of this project to encourage research and development and public awareness activities with respect to the hydrogen economy.

Our presentation outlines key findings of the DAE report on sustainably decarbonising gas networks as well providing an overview of current low-carbon gas projects (including HyP SA) – and their benefits – as we begin to implement Gas Vision 2050.