Australia's hydrogen strategy is being kicked off with draft laws making it easier for an offshore carbon capture project to go ahead.
The changes pave the way for the Victorian-based test project, which is currently eyeing off underwater rock layers in the Bass Strait to inject with greenhouse gas emissions.
Government minister Nola Merino introduced the bill to parliament on Wednesday, saying the storage technique would be the “cheapest way to produce clean hydrogen”.
Victoria’s CarbonNet brings together various carbon dioxide capture projects in the Latrobe Valley, taking the CO2 through a pipeline to storage sites in the Bass Strait.
Australia’s energy ministers agreed to the strategy at the end of last month.
The government is excited by the industry’s potential to ramp up Australia’s energy and resources sector as the sector shifts to renewables.
Chief scientist Alan Finkel put the strategy together, which says the industry could be worth billions between now and 2050.
“Much of how this opportunity will evolve remains uncertain, but there are risks in not acting early,” the strategy says.
The creation of hydrogen hubs is central to the plan – areas of large-scale demand such as in ports, cities or regional areas.
The draft legislation introduced to the lower house on Wednesday also included changes to how oil spills are managed.
It would allow National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority inspectors to enter some premises during an oil spill without a warrant.
The premises must be areas linked to oil spill clean ups, with the government arguing that waiting for a warrant in an emergency would delay monitoring of the situation.