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Hydrogen opportunity is worth a bet

Today’s proposal from the Federal Opposition to invest more than $1 billion in development of an Australian hydrogen industry is a welcome addition to the suite of initiatives to seize what could be a vast energy opportunity, Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said today.

Today’s proposal from the Federal Opposition to invest more than $1 billion in development of an Australian hydrogen industry is a welcome addition to the suite of initiatives to seize what could be a vast energy opportunity, Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said today.

“Hydrogen is already a vital part of Australia’s fertiliser and explosives production, but it is likely to grow much more important as the global economy decarbonizes in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Hydrogen has potential to play a big role in taking emissions out of transport, synthetic fuels, chemistry and steelmaking, and provide seasonal-scale energy storage too. Any of these opportunities would imply a large expansion from current global hydrogen production, and would also require substantial increases either in clean electricity or in carbon capture and storage.

“The opportunities for an Australian hydrogen supply chain and associated industries could be colossal. But there is much uncertainty in timing and pathways. It is hard to predict the speed with which the world pursues emissions goals and the future performance of hydrogen alternatives like batteries and biofuels. There is a strong role for public investment and public-private partnerships to foster experience and establish the foundations for growth should conditions prove as favourable as they appear. 

“There is already activity afoot, including pilot hydrogen projects taking shape in Victoria, Queensland and WA. The COAG Energy Council has called for a national hydrogen plan by the end of 2019. Backing that plan with substantial finance along the lines announced by the ALP makes good sense. We encourage all sides of politics to consider the hydrogen opportunity and to recognise the central role of industry in building a clean economy,” Mr Willox said.

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