The unlikely underdog picking up pace in Australia’s race to net zero

WGA AU | Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec - Photo: The unlikely underdog picking up pace in Australia’s race to net zero

Finding clean energy solutions is at the forefront of Australia’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Currently, the rather unpopular contender of energy sources, fossil fuel, dominates the country’s electricity generation. Some grave concerns with fossil fuel include its inability to replenish when exhausted and the large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions that have been the bane of global warming, environmental pollution, and health issues.

Fuel mix

Based on State statistics, fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil generate 71% of Australia’s total electricity needs. Renewable energy sources like wind, hydro and solar power produce the rest.

As one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest boutique engineering and project management consultancies, Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec (WGA) has a forward-looking view – constantly seeking smarter solutions to help people, the planet and community thrive. This is backed by the strategic initiatives set forth by the company on climate change, sustainability, and community services.

For WGA, transitioning towards a sustainable future takes many forms. In the renewable energy sector, WGA’s team of Energy, Hydrogen and Renewables specialists provide integrated engineering solutions through all lifecycle phases of wind and solar farms. In fact, their design process is industry leading and visible in over 30 wind farms and close to 1500 turbines across Australia’s wind farm operation.

While Australia has a long way to go in eliminating its dependency on fossil fuels, especially coal, steps are being taken in the right direction to fund more innovative renewable energy projects and identify and troubleshoot issues in transitioning towards decarbonised energy solutions. According to Geoscience Australia, this year, the country is on track to power up its first dual-fuel hydrogen power plant that will operate the turbines using natural gas and hydrogen to generate grid electricity.

Hydrogen, the popular cousin

As the most common element in the universe, the existence of hydrogen dates back to the times of the big bang, but its branching into clean energy solutions is comparatively recent. Global energy consultants point out that the popularity of hydrogen has steadily risen as the demand for it has increased 28% over the last decade, with the biggest takers coming from US and China. Currently, hydrogen supports about 2.5% of global energy consumption.

Alex Mashego, WGA’s Principal Process Engineer and Hydrogen Lead explains that “Hydrogen is considered a new frontier of engineering and absolutely integral to solving the world’s energy needs as we move away from reliance on fossil fuels.”

So, how is WGA equipped to drive the Hydrogen band wagon?

WGA is driven by its ability to keep an ear to the ground and provide new service offerings that harmonise innovative engineering solutions to support a decarbonised future.

It has made the 40-year-old company a clear differentiator in the energy and renewable energy areas, including windfarms, solar, power distribution, biofuel and geotechnical projects.

WGA’s well-established connections to the other renewable energy markets lend a great helping hand to draw experience and skills in navigating the needs and nuances of hydrogen projects. Its team of engineers and designers with expertise in delivering projects through all life cycle phases, from inception, concept design to detailed design, construction, and commissioning makes them the natural go-to.

“Our comprehensive and deliberate business plan is designed to stay ahead of the curve and support all hydrogen projects. We are taking action now, to ensure that we become leader in the hydrogen and renewable energy market, regardless of the size or complexity of the project.”

They are currently participating in pioneering hydrogen production and utilisation projects in Australia, which are among the first of their kind globally. Their strategy? To develop bespoke solutions, recognising that in this environment there is no room for a one size fits all approach. Some of their specialities includes:

  • Feasibility studies and techno-economic analysis including compliance studies.
  • Engineering design services for all major hydrogen production and gas treatment facilities
  • Brownfield conversions and adaptability assessments
  • Process design, Mechanical design, Electrical design, Structural Civil Design
  • Bespoke and commercially viable flowsheet development, regardless of complexity or capacity
  • Pilot plant design, testing, optimisation and scale up
  • Comprehensive process modelling using industry-standard tools such as SysCAD, ASPEN Plus, ASPEN Hysys, and Python
  • Safety in design assessments including hazard and operability (HAZOP), layers of protection analysis, and SIL assessments to ensure our designs meet safety standards
  • Mechanical design services including equipment sizing and piping design.
  • Balance of plant detailed engineering design
  • Construction supervision and project management services

About WGA

WGA is a multi-disciplinary, award-winning engineering and project management consultancy with deep roots in Australia and New Zealand.  Founded in Adelaide over 40 years ago, it has grown to offer a range of engineering expertise across 14 sectors, from Buildings, Defence and Space, Renewable Energy, Resources, Ports and Marine, Traffic and Transport to Urban Development, Water and many more.

The team of 550+ provide a multitude of specialist engineering services that supports the infrastructure and facilities for Australia’s energy needs, including structural, civil, mechanical, project management, temporary works, and geotechnical.

Find out more about our Resources team here.

Checkout the article which is also published on Resource Review.