Hydrogen energy projects to work together

Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)


A spider’s web of hydrogen projects has been launched across all states and territories in a bid to bolster the industry for Australia’s energy future.

National Energy Resources Australia on Monday announced 13 clusters across the nation, with $1.85 million in total funding split between NERA, industry and state governments.

The cluster approach aims to ensure the small businesses involved work together and share information so the developing hydrogen industry is streamlined.

It also gives other countries – potential customers for Australian hydrogen – a clearer doorway to the market.

Hydrogen is already being used as an industrial feedstock and the work done in the clusters is for it to be used at a much larger scale.

“If we were going to use it as an energy source, we’re going to have to produce it at a volume and at a cost completely different to what we’ve done in the past,” NERA boss Miranda Taylor told AAP.

As future demand dwindles for emissions-intensive energy resources like gas and coal, groundwork is being done to propel hydrogen as a replacement.

Hydrogen produces water vapour and heat when burned, and is close to a zero-emissions fuel when produced from water using renewable electricity, or from coal or methane combined with carbon capture and storage.

The clusters are focusing on renewable hydrogen.

The Clean Energy Council has welcomed the announcement, saying the coordination of industry and research is key in hydrogen’s early stages.

Ms Taylor says workers in mining, manufacturing, oil and gas could translate their skills across to hydrogen production.

“The skill sets are not profoundly different,” she said.

“Most of the people who are skilled in Australia would be able to upskill or change their skill set without an enormous effort, to be able to work in the hydrogen industry.”

Standards Australia is looking at what changes would be needed should hydrogen be used in households.

The federal government has put more than $500 million towards developing the industry.

Hydrogen is a core component of Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s technology-focused emissions reduction plan.

He’s set a price goal of under $2 per kilogram on hydrogen production, which NERA believes is about a decade away.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it will be “very hard” to achieve net zero emissions without meeting the price goal for hydrogen and other technology laid out in the plan.

Mr Morrison has shifted his language on a target for net zero, saying he would “preferably” like to get there by 2050.

But he stopped short of committing to the target.


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