Clean hydrogen is on the rise, enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum worldwide. This surge has been driven by the cost of hydrogen supply from renewables decreasing coupled with an increased urgency to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Clean hydrogen is now technically viable and quickly approaching economic competiveness; it will, as noted in the recently released IRENA report, "Hydrogen: a renewable energy perspective", play a vital role in increasing renewable energy market growth and substantially broaden the reach of renewable solutions.
With the resources and experience, as well as a government that has already committed over $146 million to hydrogen projects, Australia is in a prime position to take advantage of the increasing global momentum with a view to making it a viable export product and cementing Australia's position as a leader in the world's hydrogen economy.
With this opportunity in mind and following the COAG Hydrogen Council's consultation in July this year, on 22 November 2019 the COAG Energy Council released Australia's National Hydrogen Strategy (the Strategy). The Strategy sets out 57 joint actions for the development of a clean, innovative, safe and competitive hydrogen industry that benefits all Australians.
"Stage 1" of the Strategy focuses on laying a strong foundation over the next 5 years to stimulate large-scale market activation after 2025 by:
- advancing priority pilots, trials and demonstration projects;
- assessing supply chain infrastructure needs;
- building demonstration scale hydrogen hubs; and
- developing supply chains for prospective hydrogen hubs.
"Stage 1" of the Strategy focuses on ensuring that the regulatory framework underpinning the hydrogen market is developed in a consistent manner that fosters progress and that has a positive influence on energy prices and security.
"Stage 2" of the Strategy envisages large-scale market activation post 2025 which involves:
- identifying signals that large-scale hydrogen markets are emerging;
- scaling up projects to support export and domestic needs;
- building Australian hydrogen supply chains and large-scale export industry infrastructure;
- building and maintaining robust and sustainable export and domestic markets and supply chains; and
- enabling competitive domestic markets with explicit public benefits.
The Strategy's aim is to have a clean, innovative, safe and competitive hydrogen industry by 2030.
Whilst the Strategy has clear and defined principles and goals, it acknowledges that much of the hydrogen opportunity remains uncertain. As such, the Strategy has been designed as a "living document" that will be updated and revisited as the industry develops. It also acknowledges that a truly adaptive approach requires consistent monitoring of global developments, and therefore one of the key focuses will be on international engagement, with Australia working with other countries to track and certify the origins of internationally traded clean hydrogen. Through this engagement, Australia will work constructively to shape international markets and open new frontiers for trade.
Norton Rose Fulbright will be releasing a more in-depth review of the Strategy in the coming weeks following our attendance at the briefing session with Dr Alan Finkel on 3 December 2019. In the meantime, we have set out below some links to our earlier summary of our submission in July and a recent article from our global team on the acceleration of the hydrogen economy.
Our hydrogen-focussed team operates in Australia as part of our global network of specialist advisors on hydrogen. If you have any questions on the role of hydrogen or your hydrogen pursuit please contact Kelly Davies.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.