Thirteen regional clusters which could underpin the emergence of a multi-billion dollar hydrogen industry in Australia have been unveiled.
In its latest announcement, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) says it has awarded $1.85 million toward the development of thirteen hydrogen industry clusters that will help to underpin the development of Australia’s hydrogen sector and help the nation to become a leader in hydrogen technology.
Established around existing projects and supply chains, the clusters are spread across regional and metropolitan areas and across all states and territories (see listing).
They will foster cooperation, aid development of supply chains and support commercialisation of new technology.
Each cluster has received between $75,000 and $250,000.
The money will help to develop the skills and expertise which are needed to establish a thriving green hydrogen industry in Australia and to identify the necessary supply chain investments.
It was awarded to consortiums which have established links and who will use the money to help establish and grow the cluster including by hiring dedicated cluster managers to foster collaboration between members.
Membership of the clusters ranges from research institutions, energy companies, government departments and representatives of manufacturing and technology industries.
NERA is also seeking to establish a national cluster which will establish a consistent international brand for Australia’s hydrogen industry.
NERA was created under the previous Turnbull government, and has been tasked with leveraging federal and state government funding to support private sector co-funding for industry development grants in the energy sector,
It issued a call for expressions of interest from potential clusters last September.
The most common chemical in the universe, hydrogen can be produced as a gas or liquid, or made part of other materials.
It can be extracted from water using either electricity, coal or natural gas.
Where it is extracted using electricity, no carbon emissions occur.
It has four uses:
- Heating for homes and industry as well as for cooking, where it is delivered via new or existing natural gas networks and used in a similar way to natural gas.
- To power fuel cell electric cars, trucks, busses and trains. Here, hydrogen would offer faster refuelling times when and the ability to travel for longer when compared with battery powered electric vehicles (refuelling would require a network of stations, similar to that currently in operation for petrol and diesel fuel)
- To generate electricity through fuel cells or being burned to drive turbines. If made when there is surplus or cheap electricity available, hydrogen can be stored and used to produce electricity when there is insufficient electricity available from other sources including renewables.
- To be exported, either as an energy carrier or for use as chemical feedstock.
All up, creation of a globally competitive hydrogen industry could add up to $26 billion and thousands of jobs to the national economy by 2050, according to a 2019 Deloitte report.
The creation of the clusters is part of the Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy agreed to by the COAG Energy Council released in November 2019.
NERA CEO Miranda Taylor welcomed the announcement.
“Today marks a great step forward in Australia’s capability in developing hydrogen technologies.
“These regional clusters, all of which have the support of their state and territory governments, have been established around key, existing hydrogen projects and technology supply chains in strategic locations that have a demonstrated capacity to support them.”
“This will ensure long-term local cohesion and sustainable capability across the emerging hydrogen value chain.”