The Australian hydrogen industry group has called on the new Labor government to “create a market for hydrogen” through new policy, warning market forces will be too slow to develop the emerging industry in time to satisfy the decarbonisation needed to mitigate climate change.
The Australian Hydrogen Council (AHC) will use its Adelaide conference on Tuesday to call on the Albanese government to urgently introduce new policies, research and development investment and “targeted transition deadlines” to develop the local industry.
Hydrogen has been touted as a critical part of Australia’s renewable future because it burns cleanly, producing only water vapour and no greenhouse gases. But how it is produced determines its emissions intensity.
Green hydrogen, produced with water and renewable electricity, is the lowest-emissions form, and is much cleaner than brown hydrogen, made with fossil fuels, and more proven than blue hydrogen, made with carbon capture technology.
Labor campaigned without a dedicated hydrogen policy during the election, instead bundling some investment into a Powering Australia plan that pledged $3 billion for clean energy infrastructure that includes hydrogen electrolysers and fuel switching along with things like green metals and component manufacturing.
The party has also said its $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund will “help to make marginal hydrogen projects commercial”, and its electric and low emissions vehicle policy will stimulate demand by removing tariffs and taxes from affordable low-emissions vehicles, both electric and hydrogen.
Earlier this year, Labor also pledged support for a controversial new power plant in the Hunter Valley on the condition it was powered entirely by green hydrogen, instead of gas, by 2030.
On Tuesday AHC chief executive Dr Fiona Simon said Labor will need to do much more in power to develop the industry as “the eyes of the new energy world are fixed on Australia”.
“But the hydrogen economy can’t wait for market forces alone to drive decarbonisation. We need policy certainty and co-ordination to get this market to scale,” Dr Martin said.
“This could include market mechanisms to value carbon emissions, clean energy and fuel standards, taxation support for research and development, new investment, and targeted transition deadlines.
“Pressure is mounting because we can see the effects of climate change right now and energy security is a priority issue globally. The time for action is now.”
AHC members, now around 100-strong, represent a range of energy companies, including fossil fuel giants, as well as non-energy organisations set to benefit from a hydrogen boom, like banks, construction and logistics firms.
The Australian government launched a National Hydrogen Strategy in 2019 that aims to position the Australian industry as a major global player by 2030 with a $1.4 billion investment.
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