Study: Prospective hydrogen production regions of Australia

Study: Prospective hydrogen production regions of Australia

A new study by Geoscience Australia showing areas with high potential for future hydrogen production has been unveiled today.

Prospective hydrogen production regions of Australia identifies that every state and territory in Australia has regions that are highly prospective for hydrogen production, with more than 20,000 square kilometres of land rated as highly prospective for supporting renewable hydrogen production.

The study is technology agnostic but considers only low carbon production processes. It includes hydrogen production via electrolysis using renewable energy sources, as well as fossil fuel-derived hydrogen coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS).

It presents five different scenarios that reflect key differences in technologies for hydrogen production and the requirements of those technologies. Using geospatial analysis, each scenario is translated into a heat map that shows regional trends in potential for hydrogen production, based on access to underpinning resources and existing infrastructure.

Three scenarios explore the future potential for renewable hydrogen produced by electrolysis. These demonstrate a high potential for hydrogen production in the future near many Australian coastal areas, which is even larger if infrastructure is available to transport renewable power generated from inland areas to the coast.

Results also show significant future potential for hydrogen production in inland areas where water is available.

The final two scenarios focus on the future potential for CCS hydrogen: a 2030 scenario and a 2050 scenario. A key factor in future CCS hydrogen potential is related to the timeframes for the availability of geological storage resources for CO2.

Some key findings from the report are:

  • Australia has vast physical resources that could support a large-scale hydrogen industry.
  • Using a geospatial analysis approach, this report considers that there are extensive regions with the base elements and infrastructure to support both large-scale renewable hydrogen and CCS hydrogen.
  • Most coastal areas have elevated potential for hydrogen production from electrolysis. The unlimited supply of desalinated seawater and the availability of electrical and port infrastructure make these favourable areas for hydrogen production.
  • Australia has extensive fresh water resources which means inland hydrogen production from electrolysis is possible. However, water availability is not equally distributed across the country. This presents a challenge for inland production in some regions, particularly where relying on access to groundwater. It is possible that harvesting water from industrial water production or urban wastewater might be a “game changer” in such locations.
  • Additional infrastructure and technology development is important to unlock Australia’s hydrogen resource potential. For example, many areas may only become suitable if additional infrastructure investments can improve connection between the coast and inland areas that possess renewable energy potential.
  • Australia has extensive fossil fuel resources that can be used with CCS to produce hydrogen with low carbon emissions. The potential increases significantly when additional CCS sites, which are expected to become available over time, are incorporated into the analysis.
  • For inland CCS hydrogen, access to groundwater or competition for reservoir pore space may be a limiting factor. It is recommended to take a holistic view of hydrogen generation in these regions and explore mutually beneficial arrangements for the oil and gas industry, agricultural water users, town water supplies and hydrogen generation.

The full report can be viewed here.

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