• Australia taking steps to become hydrogen exporter in anticipation of rise in demand

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Australia appears to be taking steps to set itself up as a ‘blue’ and ‘green’ hydrogen producer in anticipation of a huge rise in demand for the gas. Both main political parties have adopted policies in the run up to the federal election next month, with the Labor Party announcing up to AUD$1 billion (US$710 million/€630 million) for research, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment of hydrogen technologies, and the governing coalition (expected to lose the election) opening public consultations on a national hydrogen strategy. Last year, Australia’s chief scientist released a National Hydrogen Roadmap which was adopted by all state governments as well as the federal government. Industry also appears to be preparing to enter or increase production. Woodside Petroleum, a billion dollar oil and gas company, believes that blue hydrogen (a carbon-neutral type usually produced from natural gas) is the way to develop industry. Its CEO, Peter Coleman, told The Guardian newspaper “We view hydrogen production and export as a potential adjacent activity to our core business of LNG. Blue hydrogen is the key to building scale and lowering costs in hydrogen transport and distribution, which will enable an earlier transition to renewable green hydrogen, produced through electrolysis of water, powered by renewables. The earlier we can shift, the faster we can reduce emissions.” He also said that the north-west of Australia is ideally placed to produce hydrogen because of its abundant sunlight. Meanwhile, a Siemens representative has pressed the case for green hydrogen, saying that what is needed is “for Australia to fast-track green hydrogen projects of scale and governments to have a clear role in supporting this great new industry as it establishes.” Siemens will soon deliver a 1.25 MW electrolysis unit to South Australia, while another company, Yara Pilbara, is working with Engie to build a 100 MW solar-powered commercial-scale green hydrogen plant with a 66 MW electrolyser, which would become the first in the world. With ambitions to become a hydrogen supplier, much of Australia’s success will depend on the rise in demand for the fuel, especially from Japan and South Korea.