The Federal Government is seeking input to inform the development of a national hydrogen strategy, a move that has been welcomed by the energy industry.
In December 2018, the COAG Energy Council, led by the Australian Government, commissioned the Chief Scientist to develop a comprehensive and ambitious national strategy for the development of an Australian hydrogen industry – and public consultation is now open.
Minister for Resources, Matt Canavan, said that building a commercial hydrogen industry requires a partnership between industry, the community and governments at all levels.
“We support new technologies like hydrogen, but there is more work to do to on it – which is why we already working with states through COAG on developing a hydrogen roadmap and are investing in further technology development,” Mr Canavan said.
Minister for Energy Angus Taylor said hydrogen could provide energy in the long term while maintaining security, reliability and affordability.
“Australia can be a world leader in hydrogen because of our abundant energy resources and proximity to emerging export markets in North Asia”, Mr Taylor said.
APPEA Chief Executive, Dr Malcolm Roberts, said, “There is tremendous interest globally in hydrogen as a new, cleaner fuel. Australia is well placed to capitalise on our already abundant natural advantage.”
Natural gas can provide a fuel source for hydrogen made through the process of steam methane reforming (SMR), with any greenhouse gas emissions generated during SMR managed through market offset or technical abatement to offer a carbon-neutral product.
“A number of APPEA members are already exploring those opportunities,” Dr Roberts said.
Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said support from both sides of federal politics for hydrogen and its potential as a low or zero-emission energy source, to back-up renewable power, was important to support the transition to a clean energy future.
“Hydrogen can be produced carbon free from excess renewable energy, storing this energy in a clean way for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind isn’t blowing,” Mr Dillon said.
Mr Dillon said while the potential for export was enormous, one of the most exciting properties of hydrogen was its potential to serve as a large-scale battery, utilising existing gas networks.
The Clean Energy Council said that while the Federal Government’s support for hydrogen to date is welcome, tangible policy initiatives and an extension to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) are needed to unlock a huge potential export earner for Australia’s economy.
“Clean hydrogen is an exciting opportunity that uses technology developed by scientists at CSIRO to make the gas export-ready. There is a large international market for hydrogen emerging, particularly in Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan, which is committed to working towards a hydrogen-based economy,” Mr Thornton said.
“The government’s interest and support for this industry of the future is obviously welcome, but it needs to be accompanied by serious policy and strategy development to realise a massive new opportunity.”
For more information on the scope of the strategy, see COAG Energy Council Hydrogen Working Group.