The global energy sector is transforming. The way we make, move, store and use energy is changing quickly. In this context, Australia is taking a leading role in the development of hydrogen as a future energy resource.
- produces no carbon dioxide emissions when used as a fuel
- can be produced as a gas or liquid, or made part of other materials
- can be used as fuel for transport or heating and a way to store electricity
With its abundance of the natural resources Australia is well placed to be a major hydrogen producer to power its own economy and those of its international partners.
National Hydrogen Strategy
The COAG Energy Council released the National Hydrogen Strategy to establish Australia’s hydrogen industry as a major global player by 2030.
The National Hydrogen Strategy:
- considers future scenarios with wide ranging growth possibilities
- outlines how governments and industry will to work together towards building a large-scale hydrogen industry
- takes an adaptive approach to allow for future growth and emerging scenarios
The strategy is committed to ensuring Australia’s hydrogen industry is safe for the environment, community, emergency services and industry.
Australia and Germany join forces on hydrogen
In September 2020, Australia and Germany joined forces in developing renewable hydrogen as a clean source of energy with the potential to lower carbon emissions.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham signed a joint declaration of intent with Germany’s Minister for Education and Research Anja Karliczek for a joint feasibility study to investigate the supply chain between the two countries on hydrogen produced from renewable energy.
The joint feasibility study will span production, storage, transport and use of renewable hydrogen. It will also assess current technology and research, and identify barriers for the development of a hydrogen industry.
Learn more about the study here.
Towards a global hydrogen market: Our expert webinar
The Australian Embassy Berlin and the Australian Mission to the EU jointly hosted an expert webinar: "Toward a Global Hydrogen Market" on Monday, 14 September at 0930 CEST // 1730 AEST.
• Australian Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel (@ScienceChiefAu)
• Chair of Economic Theory, Friedrich Alexander University, Prof Dr Veronika Grimm (@GrimmVeronika)
• Head of Renewables and CCS policy, DG Energy, Ms Paula Abreu Marques (@AbreuMPa)
• President of Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Ecosystem Director, Michelin, Ms Valérie Bouillon-Delporte (@vbouillon)
• Deputy Director-General for Energy and Climate Policy, German Federal Foreing Office, Dr Hinrich Thölken (@GERClimatEnergy)
• News Editor at EURACTIV, Mr Frédéric Simon (@FredSimonEU)
Our panel of experts discussed hydrogen’s role in the global energy transition, and opportunities for growth and energy cooperation between Australia, Germany and the EU.
You can now watch the discussion online:
Want to learn more about Australia’s hydrogen capabilities? Take a look at some of the additional questions by our audience members on energy and hydrogen and find the answers of Australia’s chief scientist, Dr Alan Finkel below:
The scale and pace of future hydrogen growth is uncertain and so it is unclear at this stage just how much capacity is needed to meet future demand.
Modelling commissioned in support of the National Hydrogen Strategy indicates that global demand for hydrogen could range from 20 million tonnes to over 350 million tonnes by 2050. When and how this demand emerges will depend on future technology and market developments.
In recognition of this uncertainty Australia is taking an adaptive approach to industry growth, focusing on building on our comparative advantages and equipping Australia to scale up quickly as the hydrogen market grows, but without risking over-commitment in an industry that is still maturing. This approach involves taking actions now, but accepting that we will need to keep changing in response to market and technology signals.
Despite this uncertainty, Australian industry is taking action. We are aware of around 50 hydrogen projects under development in Australia, with more announced each month. Projects range in size with the largest including some 12 GW of renewable energy generation to support renewable hydrogen production.
What are the key areas of collaboration between Australia and Germany and why is there a need for bilateral collaboration instead of doing it through the International Energy Agency (IEA), IRENA, the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (IPHE), or the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), among others?
Australia sees both bi-lateral and multi-lateral international collaboration as critical components of a thriving hydrogen industry.
Multilaterally, we are engaging with global institutions and forums such as the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE), the G20, the IEA Clean Energy Ministerial, the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial, and Mission Innovation, to shape the rules for hydrogen trade and investment, share best practices in research, development and deployment (R, D&D), safety and community engagement, and to foster private sector investment.
Bi-laterally we are working with key known hydrogen markets including Japan, South Korea, Germany and Singapore to explore and promote supply chain opportunities between our countries.
The announcement we have recently made with Germany to study the feasibility of a German-Australian supply chain for renewables-based hydrogen is an excellent example of how bilateral cooperation can help to identify and create new demand opportunities.
Together we will identify barriers and the optimal approaches to establishing a hydrogen supply chain between Germany and Australia. The study will also consider opportunities for technological trade between countries.
The National Hydrogen Strategy takes a technology-neutral approach to clean hydrogen production. This means that Australia supports all potential production pathways, to maximise opportunities and retain flexibility for the emerging industry.
We expect that the prospects for bio-hydrogen will depend on its relative competitiveness against other production options. When developing projects, bio-hydrogen producers will need to consider factors such as the availability of land and water for the production of feedstocks at scale, as well as cost factors.
Panellists talked about refrigeration of hydrogen. Will LOHC play a major role in transportation of H from AUS to EU? Which transportation technology looks most promising to you - liquid hydrogen (L2), ammonia or LOHC? (Research in Australia suggests that, at least in the short term, the most cost effective way to transport hydrogen is to convert it into Ammonia and transport it using conventional technology).
The potential for cost effective export of clean hydrogen, either directly through liquefaction or through its conversion to an alternate energy carrier derivative, such as a liquid organic hydrogen carrier or as ammonia, is an exciting development that will see Australia’s low emissions resources being used to achieve significant global emissions reductions.
In the short to medium term, we would expect that the most likely hydrogen carrier for export from Australia is ammonia, given the ability to leverage existing global ammonia export supply chains and the scale and number of ammonia-based hydrogen projects that are in the pipeline.
Over the longer term, we do not have a view on whether industry will prefer one form of transportation method over another. We would expect that the choice of transportation method and energy carrier used will vary depending on factors such as the distance the energy will be transported, relative conversion and reconversion costs, and the particular use for which the hydrogen or its derivative is needed.
The Australian Government is committed to open source data and we would expect that appropriate rules will apply to the hydrogen market as the market emerges.
To enable the Strategy’s adaptive approach, Australian governments have committed to monitor Australian and global industry growth against 13 progress indicators and 15 measures of success.
To track these indicators and success measures, the Australian Government has committed to coordinate and publish an annual ‘State of Hydrogen’ report. The report will signal when Australia should scale up hydrogen in response to market and technology signals.
As a first step in developing this report, we are currently establishing data collection frameworks to ensure we are capturing the data needed and will commission advice to support the reports’ findings. Where practicable, we intend for the data to be available to support industry analysis more broadly.
We would see that both hydrogen and LNG will have an important role to play in Australia’s future in the near term. Australia is a world leader in the production of LNG, where through decades of vision, learning from experience and a willingness of government and industry to work together, Australia is vying to be the world’s largest energy exporter, with around A$50 billion of LNG exported each year. LNG is clearly going to be an important part of our energy future for a long while to come.
Hydrogen is a promising new industry, with the potential for new jobs and economic growth opportunities, as well offering substantial carbon abatement potential. Creating domestic demand will be essential to move the industry from demonstration to commercial export scale. We expect to advance activities in the near term that will develop priority pilots, trials and demonstrations, create, test and prove Australia’s clean hydrogen supply chains, and develop capability for rapid industry scale-up.
One of the most exciting prospects for hydrogen is the transport sector – Australia’s largest end user of energy. Analysis by the International Energy Agency already shows hydrogen to be cost competitive in selected uses.
Hydrogen fuel carries much more energy than the equivalent weight of batteries. It offers significant application in complementing battery electric vehicles, as a viable alternative for heavy load and long range transport tasks. It also offers shorter refuelling times than battery vehicles, which can support business productivity and consumer convenience, especially for consumers without off street parking and so may also offer some utility in the light vehicle market.
Ultimately the market will decide on the merits of various technological approaches and which low emissions transport solution works best for them.
In Australia, we are neutral with regards to the type of technology used to produce hydrogen. We use the term clean hydrogen, which we define as either hydrogen produced using renewable energy or using fossil fuels with substantial carbon capture and storage (CCS).
To ensure low levels of carbon emissions, capture rates of 90% will likely be required. These rates are technically feasible.
We are working on the development of hydrogen certification to assess the CO2 intensity of each unit of hydrogen produced. Through the National Hydrogen Strategy, Australia has committed to take a lead role in the development of an international scheme, with a view that ideally, any Australian domestic scheme would build on, or harmonise with, international certification schemes.
The Strategy proposes an initial scheme to track key hydrogen production attributes, including:
- country of origin
- production technology
- carbon emissions from production.
The International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE) is working on developing an internationally agreed methodology to assess the emissions from the production of a unit of hydrogen, and Australia is actively participating in this process.