In focus: Australia’s hydrogen strategy

In focus: Australia’s hydrogen strategy

After months of planning Australia released its National Hydrogen Strategy on Friday setting out a vision for a clean, innovative, safe and competitive hydrogen industry that benefits all Australians.

Australia has the resources, and the experience, to take advantage of increasing global momentum for clean hydrogen and make it the next energy export.

There is potential for thousands of new jobs, many in regional areas – and billions of dollars in economic growth between now and 2050.

Australia can integrate more low-cost renewable generation, reduce dependence on imported fuels, and help reduce carbon emissions in the country and around the world.

Much of how this opportunity will evolve remains uncertain, but there are risks in not acting early, the strategy highlights in its executive summary.

Australia’s Strategy follows an adaptive approach, focusing on actions that remove market barriers, efficiently build supply and demand, and accelerate its global cost-competitiveness.

These will equip the country to scale up quickly as markets develop. A key element of Australia’s approach will be to create hydrogen hubs – clusters of large-scale demand.

These may be at ports, in cities, or in regional or remote areas, and will provide the industry with its springboard to scale.

Hubs will make the development of infrastructure more cost-effective, promote efficiencies from economies of scale, foster innovation, and promote synergies from sector coupling.

These will be complemented and enhanced by other early steps to use hydrogen in transport, industry and gas distribution networks, and integrate hydrogen technologies into our electricity systems in a way that enhances reliability.

Building and demonstrating broad capability in making, moving, and using clean hydrogen is only part of the story.

Australia will set clear regulatory frameworks and ensure development has a positive influence on energy prices and energy security.

Through its international engagement, Australia will work with other countries to develop a scheme to track and certify the origins of internationally traded clean hydrogen.

Australia will work constructively to shape international markets and open new frontiers for trade.

“Australians will want the new jobs and growth of clean hydrogen to be achieved without compromising safety, cost of living, water availability, access to land or environmental sustainability,” the strategy says.

“Governments and industry have the responsibility to ensure community safety, confidence and trust in the new industry, and deliver benefits for all Australians.”

“The vision we set today, and the actions we plan, are not enough if we aren’t prepared to measure our progress and ultimately our successes.”

“Nor can we be adaptive if we aren’t monitoring global developments. For the next decade, the strategy identifies indicators that will show where technology and markets are advancing quickly, and where they are moving slowly or falling behind.”

“At the same time, tracking our progress on clear measures of success – such as being a top three supplier to the Asian market, and maintaining an impeccable safety record – will ensure we are accountable to the high expectations of the Australian public.”

The strategy is the culmination of considerable analysis, consultation with experts, industry and the public, and an extensive body of original research. It is designed to be a ‘living document’ – updated and revisited as the industry develops.

In total, the strategy identifies 57 joint actions. These actions by themselves will not achieve the vision laid out by Ministers.

They are first steps, on which later actions can build. Actions are themed around national coordination, developing production capacity, supported by local demand; responsive regulation; international engagement; innovation and research and development (R&D); skills and workforce; and community confidence.

The actions consider hydrogen in relation to exports, transport, industrial use, gas networks, electricity systems, and cross-cutting issues such as safety, skills, and environmental impacts.

All levels of government, private industry, and the research community have the opportunity to help Australia realise its hydrogen potential and reap rewards for the economy, the community and the environment to 2030 and beyond.

Unique opportunity

Dr. Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, presented the National Hydrogen Strategy to the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council in Perth on Friday (22nd November).

“The strategy is ambitious but I believe that developing clean hydrogen offers a unique opportunity for Australia,” he said.

“Australia has the renewable resources, the technology know-how, and the relationships with trading partners to make the most of the changing marketplace that is the energy sector.”

“When it comes to capturing and exporting solar and wind electricity by first splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, clean hydrogen and its derivatives have no equal.

“Energy importing countries are hungry for hydrogen as part of their emissions reduction agenda, and Australia has the potential to supply much of their needs. We can be the leader in the new industry I call “shipping sunshine.”

“Travelling around the country I have witnessed an extraordinary degree of passion for this industry from ministers, public servants, investors, industrialists and the general public. The future for hydrogen is bright and it is ours to seize.”

To read the National Hydrogen Strategy in full, click here.

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