Labor’s $1bn National Hydrogen Plan

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The Federal Labor Party has revealed its $1 billion National Hydrogen Plan, which it believes would supercharge a clean hydrogen export industry.

As global demand for hydrogen surges to an expected $215 billion by 2022, Australia is uniquely placed to benefit from the development of this new, job-generating industry.

Analysis by ACIL Allen projects that hydrogen exports alone could be worth $10 billion in 20 years, and create 16,000 new blue-collar jobs – mainly in regional areas.

Most of the benefits of hydrogen development will be in regional Australia. For example, the deep sea water ports of Gladstone and Newcastle are well placed to support a hydrogen export industry.

Queensland’s Gladstone is set to be the the hydrogen capital of Australia.

Labor’s six-point plan for hydrogen

1. Allocate $1 billion of funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to support clean hydrogen development, from Labor’s commitment to double CEFC’s capital by $10 billion.

2. Invest up to $90 million of unallocated funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support research, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment of hydrogen technologies.

3. Establish a $10 million ARENA funding round for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure around the nation, from within ARENA’s unallocated funding.

4. Invest $40 million of unallocated funding from the CEFC Clean Energy Innovation Fund to target hydrogen technologies and businesses that have passed the research and development stage.

5. Implement regulatory reforms that will help the industry develop and prosper, including reforms to support the use of existing gas pipelines for hydrogen, reforms to support the shipping of hydrogen, reforms to better support the storage of carbon dioxide from blue and brown hydrogen production, as well as other reforms to support hydrogen use and production.

6. Establish the National Hydrogen Innovation Hub in Gladstone, with an initial investment of $3 million. This will kick-start early commercialisation of hydrogen technologies, provide a hub for investment and research agencies, and provide opportunities to leverage LNG infrastructure to support hydrogen exports.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the world is looking towards hydrogen to fuel the future.

“Queensland’s significant renewable resources of solar and wind energy, combined with our existing gas pipeline infrastructure and port facilities including Gladstone Port, provide us with a competitive advantage in the future production and export of hydrogen.

“In Queensland we are aiming to have some of the world’s first renewable hydrogen power exports – with Queensland sunshine – helping to power the Tokyo Olympics next year.”

The industry responds

Energy Network Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said hydrogen not only had enormous potential as a new Australian export industry, it offered the prospect of zero-emission energy and storage to backup renewable power, utilising existing gas networks.

“Hydrogen technology is being embraced around the world – in northern Europe, for example, for domestic and commercial use in gas networks, and to fuel passenger and freight trains,” Mr Dillon said.

“It can be produced carbon free from excess renewable energy – during sunny and windy days when generation is high and demand is low – making Australia uniquely placed to develop a hydrogen industry with our abundant solar and wind resources.

“While the potential for export is enormous, one of the most exciting properties of hydrogen is its potential to serve as a large-scale battery, utilising existing gas networks.”

Mr Dillon said national policies that supported the development of a hydrogen sector were essential to help Australia meet its potential and take advantage of a potentially abundant, clean energy resource.

“Funding support for research and development, led nationally, that supports the ultimate commercialisation of hydrogen technologies will provide important impetus,” he said.

“Energy Networks Australia supported the CSIRO on the 2018 National Hydrogen Roadmap and has worked with Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, who is developing a national strategy with the support of the Commonwealth and state governments.

“Our gas network members are undertaking significant hydrogen related projects throughout Australia, trialling hydrogen in gas networks and for use in domestic appliances.

“As Energy Networks Australia’s Gas Vision 2050 report has demonstrated, hydrogen’s scope is impressive, with potential to widen a customer’s power options, improve and increase renewable generation and even create a new energy export market.”

Chief Scientist, Professor Alan Finkel AO, has highlighted the opportunity for Australia to export liquified hydrogen alongside liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet the growing demand for cleaner energy across the Asia-Pacific.

Australia’s LNG industry is ideally placed to support the growth of a new hydrogen export industry in Australia,” said APPEA Chief Executive, Malcolm Roberts.

“Australia’s LNG export success story means our industry has the technology, the expertise and the commercial and trade relationships to make hydrogen exports a reality.

“Indeed, hydrogen is already being produced from Australian LNG exports in some of our overseas markets.  In the United States, natural gas is the dominant source of their growing hydrogen industry.”

Natural gas can provide a fuel source for blue 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.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said Australia is well placed to take advantage of the growing global demand for clean hydrogen.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to build on the work done by CSIRO and ARENA recently, on creating hydrogen using renewable energy and converting it to a form where it can be exported. Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea have committed to making hydrogen a huge part of their energy future, giving us a fantastic opportunity to produce and export it to the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Thornton said.

“Labor’s National Hydrogen Plan could create a new export industry powered by our world-class wind and sunshine, which may one day rival resource commodities such as liquid natural gas. Hydrogen can also be used as a zero-emission fuel in vehicles.

“It makes sense to take advantage of the expertise which has been developed this decade in our premier scientific organisation, combined with the investment nous of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Mr Thornton said the time had come for politicians to look forward and embrace new opportunities and new solutions for the energy challenges we are facing today.

“We need to rapidly reduce emissions in a way that maintains the reliability of our electricity supply and at a low cost. This means renewable energy with storage, hydrogen and the development of other new technologies and approaches,” Mr Thornton said.

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