Report argues for Victorian hydrogen industry

Hydrogen is an important new player in Australia’s clean energy transition and Victoria is well placed to lead the charge in creating a long-term export market,  according to a policy paper.

Dominic Meagher

Power State: Building the Victorian Hydrogen Industry, produced by the John Curtain Research Centre, argues for an integrated hydrogen sector in Australia, and says Victoria could become the nation’s hydrogen export capital because of its supply of renewable energy, industry infrastructure, skilled workforce and established government policy agenda.

Other nations are moving quickly in this space and Australia doesn’t have the time to play catch up, it says.

“A Victorian hydrogen industry represents a once in a lifetime opportunity if we get the investment and policy settings right, Victoria will play an integral role in shaping Australia’s long-term economic recovery from COVID-19,” authors Dominic Meagher and Nick Dyrenfurth write.

A long term solution

The report provides an overview over the latest developments in hydrogen, looks at projects around the world and identifies gaps where Victoria can step up.

Dr Meagher, visiting fellow at the ANU college of Asia and the Pacific and executive director of the Australasia Strategy Group, told Government News the paper should be a wake up call to the Victorian government, which is looking at ways of meeting greenhouse targets.

Dr Meagher says a recent drop in the price of renewables is a potential game changer for hydrogen.

“The price of renewables has come down so much you can actually make hydrogen without any greenhouse emissions cheaply,” he said.

Victoria already has an advantage in establishing a hydrogen industry, he says, with Australia’s highest percentage of homes connected to gas infrastructure and a skilled workforce.

“So when you’ve already got all these pipes pumping gas it means that you can retrofit and upgrade relatively cheaply to get things transitioned from natural gas into hydrogen,” he says.

Dr Meagher believes hydrogen is a long-term sustainable energy solution, with Australia pushing global frontiers along with countries like Germany, Sweden, Japan and Korea.

Recommendations for the Victorian government:

  • Establish a roadmap for the development of a hydrogen industry
  • Provide subsidies and tax incentives for investment in the sector
  • Put in place hydrogen skills, training and regulatory frameworks
  • Cultivate consumer and industry demand
  • Provide $20 million to fund Victorian Hydrogen Excellence Centre
  • Establish demonstration projects

Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy says Australia has the resources, and experience, to take advantage of increasing global momentum for clean hydrogen and make it the country’s next energy export.

It proposes the creation of hydrogen hubs at ports, cities, or regional or remote areas.

The strategy also distinguishes five categories of use of hydrogen including electricity for the grid; fuel for public and private transport; heating for residences and business; a chemical feedstock and for export.

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