CSIRO boost for local hydrogen production


James Riley
Editorial Director

It has been a big week in the development of a local green hydrogen sector with the launch of a CSIRO-led national industry mission and the unveiling of the network of hydrogen technology clusters.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall says the mission aims to get hydrogen production below $2 per kilogram, a price-point that would make the fuel more affordable, and position Australia as a leader in hydrogen exports by 2030.

The goal is the creation of a viable emissions-free fuel to generate electricity, power or heat and to develop a valuable new export industry.

The Hydrogen Industry Mission is backed with $68 million in initial funding that will underwrite more than 100 projects over the next five years.

Mission partners include the federal Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, Swinburne University, the Victorian government and the Future Fuels CRC.

Also involved is the government-funded National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) industry growth centre, and the Australian Hydrogen Council industry group. Toyota and Hyundai were announced as collaborators to the mission.

The partners say that the Team Australia approach is essential to creating the 8,000 jobs and $11 billion-a-year in additional GDP that the partners say the industry can add.

The Mission is focused on four key programs of work, some of which have already begun:

  • Hydrogen Knowledge Centre: to capture and promote hydrogen projects and industry developments across Australia. The first module, HyResource, was launched in September with NERA, the Future Fuels CRC and The Australian Hydrogen Council.
  • Feasibility and strategy studies to deliver trusted advice to government, industry and the community. This builds on recent hydrogen cost modelling and barrier analysis provided as part of developing the National Hydrogen Strategy.
  • Demonstration projects that validate hydrogen value chains and de-risk enabling technologies. Development is underway at a new facility in Clayton, Victoria, with Swinburne University and the Victorian Government.
  • Enabling science and technology through investment in breakthrough science, including a $20m partnership with Fortescue which focuses on the development and commercialisation of new hydrogen technologies.

The CSIRO has been steadily pressing the case for building a hydrogen production industry based on the nation’s relatively abundant access to renewables. Adding hydrogen to its national missions strategy is the next step.

“We think the next big opportunity, as does the Federal Government, for decarbonisation in Australia will be hydrogen fuel – as a zero-emissions energy carrier produced using renewable sources,” Dr Marshall told an industry conference earlier in the year.

“Australia is blessed with vast energy resources, many of them renewable, but some of our biggest trading partners are not so fortunate. They are grappling with how to transition from a reliance on fossil-fuel imports to lower-emissions alternatives,” he said.

“This is where science can unlock a seemingly impossible challenge because hydrogen could both fill the gap in our export dollars and help the world, and us, navigate the energy market transition.

“Australia can become a renewable energy superpower through the production and export of hydrogen, but it isn’t easy to invent a new industry around an existing one.”

Meanwhile the industry growth centre NERA has formed a network of hydrogen technology clusters across Australia, providing seed-funding with governments and industry to build the skills, capability and commercialisation opportunities.

The Australian Hydrogen Technology Cluster that will expedite rapid development of the hydrogen supply chain and drive market activation, establishing a global identity and recognised brand for Australian hydrogen technology and expertise.

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