Image: Source PHYS ORG

The Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap – discussion paper invited industry and the general-public to consider which sustainable technology Australia should invest and develop. The Roadmap is the latest approach to decarbonising Australian industry, transport and agricultural sectors and it looks like the Government is backing Hydrogen technology as a winner.

There is a growing global appetite to explore hydrogen as a form of renewable energy. Industry is making the technology breakthroughs necessary to reduce the cost of generating hydrogen and countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the US have been investing in hydrogen technology as the pathway forward over the past decade or more.

Hydrogen presents a viable alternative to conventional fossil fuels in Australia and conditions are now favourable to capitalise on international technology breakthroughs and grow both hydrogen domestic and export markets. Large scale production is yet to be realised, but it is only a matter of time.  Establishing a new value chain in a mature fossil fuel-based market is attracting new ways of building industry ecosystems.

H2SEQ is an industry-led Hydrogen Industry Cluster focused on sustainably growing the Hydrogen industry ecosystem in Greater Brisbane/South East Queensland region. The Cluster joins industry bodies, research institutions, businesses, large companies, and specialist services that contribute to the value chain. H2SEQ participants are exploring opportunities to engage end users in the process and develop a viable hydrogen industry in Australia.

The export market currently in negotiation with Japan and South Korea will hopefully pave the way for a domestic transition to hydrogen in Australia. It is vitally important to create a value chain in Australia for the hydrogen industry to gain a foothold and build towards an export market. Australia’s competitive advantage is our skills in gas extraction, use, and export; the availability of land to develop on, and complimentary minerals i.e. Iron ore to build a hydrogen industry around. We will need to carefully select existing hydrogen technology to suit the Australian climate. Whilst TRI/CRL scale is an essential consideration for investment selection, it should not be the only focus. At a macro and regional level, the cost, business impact, value across the life cycle, resource availability, execution effort and alignment to the technology priorities need to be considered. The maturity of the energy value chain and supporting infrastructure may not be ready yet and government will need to foster and plan for the sectors growth.

Australia’s competitive advantage is our skills in gas extraction, use and export; the availability of land to develop on, and complimentary industries i.e. mining, to build a hydrogen industry around. Transitioning industry and developing new job opportunities for displaced workforce is a challenge. The Grattan Institute green steel proposal has potential to achieve this goal and no doubt there will be many more proposals as momentum builds.

The Government’s Technology Roadmap indicates Australia is open for opportunities in hydrogen industry development. The Government should actively building Australia’s profile as a producer, trading partner and research partner in hydrogen. Attracting international research funding and expertise to Australia.

Following the release of the final policy later in the year Dr Alan Finkel and the Government intend to provide an annual report on the outcomes. The targets and KPIs that will form the annual reporting process will provide the blueprint for future investment. Hopefully, these will include emission targets, metrics around transitioning industrial feedstock, and targets for hydrogen fuel mixing with gas for domestic heating and cooking.

You can read the full QTLC & H2SEQ submission here