One facet of Australia’s evolving energy mix is hydrogen, and particularly renewable hydrogen (produced from surplus electricity from wind and solar or biomass), which is being touted as an ideal supply solution for the domestic market, and a highly sought after export product.
Hydrogen energy can be stored as a gas and delivered through natural gas pipelines and also transported across land and sea when converted to liquid form. Electrical energy can be converted into hydrogen via electrolysis that separates hydrogen from oxygen in water, and when produced using renewable electricity, is entirely emissions free.
This fuel made has made recent headlines due to two major funding and long term investment announcements.
Last month, on behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced the opening of the $70 million Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round to help fast track the development of renewable hydrogen in Australia.
According to ARENA, the funding round is expected to play a significant role in supporting commercial-scale deployments of renewable hydrogen in Australia and facilitate cost reductions in production, such as the support for two or more large scale renewable hydrogen projects with electrolysers of a minimum of 5 MW capacity (with a preference for 10 MW or larger).
The expectation is that these projects will be some of the largest electrolysers in the world and ARENA states that each project must be powered by renewable electricity, either directly or through power purchase agreements or large scale generation certificates.
“Australia is well placed to become a major renewable hydrogen producer and exporter. We are blessed with some of the world’s best wind and solar resources, a large sparsely populated landmass, and as a major energy and resources exporter, we are already an experienced and trusted trading partner for countries like Japan and South Korea that will be the future hydrogen importers,” said Darren Miller, CEO of ARENA.
We previously reported on the vital strategic trade partnerships between Asia Pacific nations in January when the Australian and Japanese governments made a commitment to cooperate on the deployment of hydrogen as a clean, secure, affordable and sustainable source of energy.
Following ARENA’s major funding announcement The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) welcomed the launch of the $300 million Advancing Hydrogen Fund, reflected in the Australian Government CEFC Investment Mandate Direction 2020.
According to CEFC, the Mandate directs them to make available up to $300 million in CEFC finance to support the growth of a clean, innovative, safe and competitive Australian hydrogen industry. An early priority will see the CEFC seeking to invest in projects included in the ARENA Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round referenced above (the funding round follows the release of the National Hydrogen Strategy last year).
It’s certainly an exciting time for the hydrogen industry in Australia, and this investment and commitment is creating a number of supply and development opportunities within our ever evolving industry. For more detail on hydrogen check out our podcast on the topic.