Hydrogen industry calls on government for ‘transition deadlines’

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The Australian Hydrogen Council (AHC) has urged the new Labor government to fast track the introduction of new policies, research and investment, warning market forces will be too slow to develop the local industry in time to make good on the emissions reductions needed to mitigate climate change.

AHC chief executive officer Dr Fiona Simon, who will speak at the Australian Hydrogen Conference in Adelaide today, said hydrogen has huge potential to deliver significant economic, employment, energy and environmental benefits for Australia but the new government needs to lay down policy foundations to develop the industry as “the eyes of the new energy world are fixed on Australia”.

“Our trade partners are closely watching how we develop this market and the work of our members is making people sit up and take notice,” she said.

“But the hydrogen economy can’t wait for market forces alone to drive decarbonisation. We need policy certainty and co-ordination to get this market to scale.

“This could include market mechanisms to value carbon emissions, clean energy and fuel standards, taxation support for research and development, new investment, and targeted transition deadlines.”

Hydrogen has been touted as a critical component of Australia’s renewable future with new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese identifying it as key to his strategy to increase the share of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market to 82% by 2030 as part of his pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by the end of the decade.

New Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen with newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Image: Chris Bowen / Facebook

While Labor has yet to present a dedicated hydrogen policy, Albanese has vowed to transform Australia into “a renewable energy superpower,” underwritten by a $3 billion investment in renewables, including solar, large-scale renewable projects, green hydrogen and hydrogen electrolyser manufacture.

While Australia is aiming to become a major player in global hydrogen production and trade, Simon said pressure is mounting as the effects of climate change became increasingly evident and energy security remained a priority issue across the world.

“The time for action is now,” she said.

Meanwhile, former Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel has urged Australia to use “all the tools available” to deploy renewable energy as quickly as possible to decarbonise the global energy system.

Speaking at the Australian Hydrogen Conference on Tuesday, the Australian government’s Special Adviser for Low Emissions Technology said that to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the impact of global warming, human civilisation was undertaking the biggest transformation of energy systems since the taming of fire.

“So substantial that in the naming traditions of the stone age, the iron age, the bronze age, and the industrial age, it could be argued that we are entering the electric age,” he said.

“We need to use all the tools available to us to deploy renewable energy as quickly as possible.

“The key to bringing net-zero (emissions) within reach will be to electrify everything.”

Finkel said electricity would not be ideal in some circumstances, highlighting the need for hydrogen and other products.

Finkel echoed Simon’s push to develop a market for clean hydrogen, calling for a “laser focus” on the development of a market and the need to build demand for the energy source.

“As I look at the hydrogen landscape today, I see an imbalance in supply and demand. Yes, we’ve identified many important uses for clean hydrogen, but they will not develop overnight.”

Finkel suggested one option is for more businesses to co-locate sites of hydrogen supply with demand. He said the option would entail installing combined solar, wind, and hydrogen production capability adjacent to mines and manufacturing plants. Over time, hydrogen could be introduced into the production process.

The Australian Hydrogen Conference, which wraps up today, has brought together energy experts from across the sector to explore the latest projects, challenges, opportunities and lessons and to help shape the industry’s future.

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