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Consultations for the design of the $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart program have been officially opened by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW).

Announced in the 2023 Federal budget, Hydrogen Headstart will deliver a step change in Australia’s renewable hydrogen production by underwriting some of the largest electrolyser deployments in the world. 

The program is intended to bridge the commercial gap for early projects and put Australia on course for up to a gigawatt of electrolyser capacity by 2030. 

ARENA and DCCEEW have published a consultation paper outlining indicative specifications for the program. The consultation paper covers proposed objectives, eligibility criteria and funding mechanisms, as well as other features of the program. 

The consultation paper proposes to support projects with a hydrogen production credit delivered over ten years, bridging the gap between the cost of hydrogen produced and the sales price of hydrogen or its derivative products. 

ARENA and DCCEEW will be accepting written submissions, hosting an information webinar and running in person consultation forums in Sydney and Perth. 

Following the consultation period, ARENA and DCCEEW will develop the final program design.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said the consultation would reveal the best pathway to a thriving renewable hydrogen industry. 

“ARENA was pleased to see the Federal Government recognise our expertise in renewable hydrogen by calling on us to co-develop the Hydrogen Headstart program,” Mr Miller said. 

“The consultation paper we’ve launched will kick off discussions about how Hydrogen Headstart can best deliver for the Australian public.

“Australia has all the ingredients to be a global leader in renewable hydrogen. Together with DCCEEW, we’ll be consulting widely with industry and other stakeholders to hear their views and inform what will be a transformative scale up of Australia’s renewable hydrogen capacity.” 

Industry response

Australian Hydrogen Council CEO, Dr Fiona Simon, welcomed the release of the consultation paper. 

“We’re at a critical juncture where we need to act quickly and strategically to ensure the Australian hydrogen industry can capitalise on the immense opportunity that we have both domestically and as an exporter,” Dr Simon said. 

“There has been significant change since the last National Hydrogen Strategy both globally and at home, and as an industry we are in a better position to choose priorities and go after them. 

Dr Simon said the $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart is an important priority that will keep Australia competitive and help shape future policies and incentives. 

“As Australia’s peak body for the emerging clean and renewable hydrogen industry, we look forward to engaging with our members and stakeholders to share a clear industry response to support the Australian Government in its objectives. 

“We encourage industry to have their say in these consultations, as it is a critical first step which will inform the development of the revised National Hydrogen Strategy and policy design for Headstart.”

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