National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) has announced a national network of regional hydrogen clusters in order to help get Australia’s hydrogen industry off the ground.

The national cluster (which would operate as a virtual network) will establish a global identity and a recognised brand for Australian hydrogen technology and expertise. 

It will also aid the development of the hydrogen supply chain, reduce overlaps and identify gaps in the development, deployment, and commercialisation of new hydrogen focused technologies. 

The total funding for the project is $1.85 million, with the Tasmanian Government opting to match the NERA funding of the Bell Bay cluster.

The establishment of the regional hydrogen technology clusters – which cover all of Australia’s states and territories – follows the conclusion of a seed funding selection program started by NERA in September 2020. 

NERA has also been able to leverage a range of funding commitments from state and territory governments around the country, as well as industry financial support. 

NERA CEO, Miranda Taylor, said the announcement was a crucial step in building the skills, capacities and commercialisation opportunities necessary to unlock Australia’s enormous potential to create a globally competitive hydrogen industry that, according to a 2019 Deloitte report, could increase Australia’s GDP up to $26 billion. 

“Today marks a great step forward in Australia’s capability in developing hydrogen technologies,” Ms Taylor said.

“These regional clusters, all of which have the support of their state and territory governments, have been established around key, existing hydrogen projects and technology supply chains in strategic locations that have a demonstrated capacity to support them.

“This will ensure long-term local cohesion and sustainable capability across the emerging hydrogen value chain.”

Australian Hydrogen Council CEO, Dr Fiona Simon, said, “I would like to congratulate NERA on today’s announcement that delivers on a key recommendation from the National Hydrogen Strategy to establish a national network of hydrogen technology clusters.

“This is a real game changer. These clusters are essential to connect small and medium enterprises across the hydrogen supply chain and provide an opportunity to leverage the tremendous amount of skills and expertise in Australia.

“The hydrogen technology clusters will stimulate jobs growth and create greater efficiencies by sharing technologies, research and other resources within these virtual networks.

“Businesses of all sizes will be able to prepare for the increasing demand for products and services necessary across the hydrogen supply chain, from gas fitters to software engineers.

“These initiatives will help us progress towards getting hydrogen to scale in Australia but there is a lot more work to be done.

“The Australian Hydrogen Council will continue to work with all hydrogen stakeholders on the required steps to reach the target of getting hydrogen to $2/kilogram and support the deployment and commercialisation of hydrogen.”

The Clean Energy Council’s Policy Director – Energy Generation, Anna Freeman, said, “In these very early days of this new industry, co-ordination is key, and these clusters will bring players from industry and research together to take advantage of our emerging hydrogen opportunities.

“Those interested in playing a role in the hydrogen supply chain will be able to join the regional clusters to identify the local needs and opportunities.

“We congratulate NERA on recognising this key need for regional co-operation, and look forward to supporting the success of the clusters.”

The development of a national hydrogen cluster was identified by the 2019 National Hydrogen Strategy as an important component to scale up Australia’s domestic industry to become a global hydrogen competitor. 

The announcement continues NERA’s active role in coordinating collaborative opportunities to realise Australia’s hydrogen potential across the hydrogen value chain and ensure that Australian companies are well placed to supply new technology, products and services to domestic and international markets. 

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