Hydrogen: Australia hopes to ship sunshine to Asia Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Australia's Chief Scientist and engineer, Alan Finkel, is leading the development of a national hydrogen strategy for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Nine consultation papers have been released which engineers may wish to comment on.

Dr Finkel is a vocal advocate for the use of hydrogen, emphasising the chemical element is about to have its time in the spotlight.

"I believe the time for hydrogen has come," he told the SMH, however, he knows a successful strategy for Australia will take time. "This is not something that can happen overnight, it is a journey to be navigated with patience, innovation and determination," Dr Finkel said. "We will need to build out gradually, learning and recalibrating along the way."

Dr Finkel likens electricity coming from solar plants producing clean hydrogen for export to "shipping sunshine". In just over a decade, he believes Australia could have a hydrogen export industry worth about $1.7 billion, providing 2800 jobs.

Australia is well placed to produce and export hydrogen at scale due to the abundance of wind, sun and fossil fuels and our proximity to Asian markets. Japan and Korea are expected to become major hydrogen importers in the near future to power electric vehicles, light and heat buildings.

Late last year the COAG Energy Council was commissioned by Australia's Chief Scientist and engineer, Alan Finkel, to develop a "comprehensive and ambitious" national strategy to be delivered by the end of 2019.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said hydrogen technology "will lower the cost of reducing emissions, so that we can meet Australia’s climate commitments without sending industries and jobs offshore".

He said the government had already invested $100 million in hydrogen projects, saying Australia is "uniquely placed to provide reliable power through storage and transport of energy."

The topics of the nine papers are:

1.       Hydrogen at scale                                           
2.       Attracting hydrogen investment    
3.       Developing a hydrogen export industry 
4.       Guarantees of origin
5.       Understanding community concerns for safety and the environment
6.       Hydrogen in the gas network                           
7.       Hydrogen to support electricity systems
8.       Hydrogen for transport
9.       Hydrogen for industrial users.

The deadline to have your say on the consultation papers is 28 July 2019.