Australia set to become a world leader in hydrogen
Michael Haddy (AMGC’s State Director for South Australia, and National Director Defence and Space) has witnessed first-hand the positive impact that an increased focus on hydrogen can have on a nation’s manufacturing industry. Haddy recently studied advanced manufacturing techniques in Europe, visiting French railway manufacturer Alstom who launched the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell train in late 2018.
Two of Alstom’s low-noise, zero-emissions train have been in commercial service in Lower Saxony, Germany, for over 12 months. Alstom’s trains feature fuel cells that turn hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and can travel up to 140 kilometres per hour.
According to Haddy, “Alstom’s hydrogen-powered trains have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. Rail is one of the easiest transport mediums through which to introduce hydrogen—this is because rail relies upon well-defined routes and uses high volume of hydrogen—one train uses as much hydrogen as several hundred cars.”
“Australian manufacturing must play a part in the world’s hydrogen economy. Australia needs to be the go-to nation for hydrogen-related technologies, with manufacturers who understand the market and its potential. We need to build the technology—such as hydrogen trains—in Australia, alongside a hydrogen technology manufacturing ecosystem that will compound over time,” said Haddy.
A global hydrogen exporter
In late November, the COAG Energy Council agreed to Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy. The Strategy defines what is needed to build a clean, innovative, safe and competitive hydrogen industry designed to benefit all Australians.
The Strategy sets a path for Australia to become a major global player in the hydrogen industry by 2030. This includes removing market barriers, ensuring regulatory consistency, and building international trade partnerships. The Strategy also encourages the creation of ’hydrogen hubs’ – clusters of large-scale domestic demand that will help to establish the skills and investment needed for Australia to develop a globally competitive hydrogen export industry.
Hydrogen is a flexible, safe, transportable and storable fuel. When used as a fuel, hydrogen’s only by-product is water. There are no carbon emissions.
Hydrogen can be used, like natural gas, to heat homes and industry, and for cooking. Hydrogen can power fuel cell electric cars, trucks, buses and trains. Hydrogen can be used to generate electricity (through fuel cells or being burned to drive turbines). If made when there is surplus or cheap electricity available, then hydrogen can be stored and used to produce electricity when there is insufficient electricity available from other sources.
Finally, hydrogen can be exported, either as an energy carrier or for use as a chemical feedstock – hydrogen‘s most common use today is as a chemical ingredient.
Australia’s Competitive Advantage
The global interest in clean hydrogen presents a major opportunity for Australia, particularly as Australia has significant competitive advantages for developing a substantial hydrogen export industry.
According to Dr Alan Finkel AO (Australia’s Chief Scientist and Chair of the COAG Energy Council Hydrogen Working Group), “Australia has a number of competitive advantages as a hydrogen exporter: expertise and infrastructure we can leverage to develop hydrogen export energy supply chains; proximity to markets in Asia and well-established trading relationships; and an abundance of renewable energy and low-cost fossil-fuel resources.”
Government to Fund Hydrogen Projects
Following the release of the National Hydrogen Strategy, the Federal Government has launched a funding package focussed on growing Australia’s hydrogen industry.
Along with the $13.4 million already provided to implement and coordinate the Strategy, the Government will reserve $370 million from existing Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding to back new hydrogen projects.
The CEFC will commit $300 million of concessional finance through a new Advancing Hydrogen Fund and ARENA will provide $70 million to kick-start electrolyser projects.
The National Hydrogen Strategy is available at: industry.gov.au/hydrogen