ARENA awards $22.1 million to 16 hydrogen export research projects

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Following closely on the heels of major reports highlighting Australia’s hydrogen export potential, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has earmarked $22.1 million in funding to boost national research and development projects in the field.

The funding will be distributed among nine Australian universities and research organizations including: the Australian National University, Macquarie University, Monash University, Queensland University of Technology, RMIT University, The University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, The University of Western Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

The first time ARENA announced a hydrogen R&D funding was in December, with a $20 million commitment into the hydrogen energy supply chain.

The Thursday funding announcement appears to be propelled by recent reports showing low emissions hydrogen offering significant export potential for Australia.

The report by ACIL Allen Consulting commissioned by ARENA set out that hydrogen export could contribute $1.7 billion to the economy annually. In a separate report by the Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, delivered to the COAG Energy Council, described hydrogen as Australia’s next multibillion dollar export opportunity.

In addition, the National Hydrogen Roadmap released by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, which is one of the funding recipients, showed the development of a hydrogen export industry represents a significant opportunity for Australia and a potential ‘game changer’ for the local industry and the broader energy sector due to associated increases in scale.

Now the research projects will look into the ways Australia can make this happen.

“Exporting renewable energy, such as by the use of hydrogen, involves developing and integrating emerging technologies. This funding will help bolster the research efforts of Australian scientists to drive innovation for what could become the next big export industry,“ says Darren Miller, recently appointed ARENA CEO.

According to ARENA, the early stage research projects cover a diverse range of renewable solutions, with at least one project from each point in the supply chain – production, hydrogen carrier and end use.

The projects include the development of a wide range of hydrogen-related technologies including concentrating solar thermal, electrolysis, biotechnology, carrier synthesis, thermochemical processes, fuel cell development and energy generation.

As confirmed in the earlier reports, interest in green hydrogen – the one produced from renewable sources for example via electrolysers powered by solar and wind – is rapidly growing.

“Hydrogen is poised to play a big role in the world’s low carbon economy. Already, Japan and South Korea have committed to becoming major import markets for renewable hydrogen but as yet there are no exporters,” Miller said.