Australia-wide network of hydrogen technology clusters unveiled

hydrogen technology clusters

A network of regional hydrogen technology clusters has been unveiled across Australia, as part of a drive to establish a nationwide hydrogen cluster. 

Spearheaded by National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), the national cluster (which would operate as a virtual network) will establish a global identity and a recognised brand for Australian hydrogen technology and expertise. It will also aid the development of the hydrogen supply chain, reduce overlaps and identify gaps in the development, deployment, and commercialisation of new hydrogen focused technologies. 

The establishment of the regional hydrogen technology clusters–which cover all of Australia’s states and territories–follows the conclusion of a seed funding selection program started by NERA in September. NERA has also been able to leverage a range of funding commitments from state and territory governments around the country, as well as industry financial support. 

NERA CEO Miranda Taylor said the announcement was a crucial step in building the skills, capacities and commercialisation opportunities necessary to unlock Australia’s enormous potential to create a globally competitive hydrogen industry that, according to a 2019 Deloitte report, could increase Australia’s GDP up to $26 billion. 

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“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.” 

The development of a national hydrogen cluster was identified by the 2019 National Hydrogen Strategy as an important component to scale up Australia’s domestic industry to become a global hydrogen competitor. 

The announcement continues NERA’s active role in coordinating collaborative opportunities to realise Australia’s hydrogen potential across the hydrogen value chain and ensure that Australian companies are well placed to supply new technology, products and services to domestic and international markets. 

The hydrogen cluster break-down

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Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said Queensland was well positioned to meet the growing international demand for cheaper, cleaner energy in the form of hydrogen both here at home, and internationally.

“Our established infrastructure, significant solar resources and available land make Queensland the ideal location to produce renewable hydrogen for domestic and international use,” he said.

“The Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy 2019–2024 sets a clear plan to support innovation, facilitate private investment, implement effective policy frameworks, build community awareness and facilitate skills development.

“Since 2019, the Queensland Government has committed almost $60 million across multiple programs and initiatives to help grow an industry that we know will create a lucrative new export market, create highly-skilled jobs and help us reach our 50 per cent renewable target by 2030.

“I look forward to the work of the NERA hydrogen technology cluster program in supporting the progression and advancement of our state’s Strategy and in helping to facilitate the growth of the hydrogen industry at a national level.”

The Australian Hydrogen Council (AHC) has welcomed the announcement, with AHC CEO Dr Fiona Simon saying this is a real game-changer.

“These clusters are essential to connect small and medium enterprises across the hydrogen supply chain and provide an opportunity to leverage the tremendous amount of skills and expertise in Australia,” Dr Simon said.

“The hydrogen technology clusters will stimulate jobs growth and create greater efficiencies by sharing technologies, research and other resources within these virtual networks. Businesses of all sizes will be able to prepare for the increasing demand for products and services necessary across the hydrogen supply chain, from gas fitters to software engineers.

“These initiatives will help us progress towards getting hydrogen to scale in Australia but there is a lot more work to be done.

“The Australian Hydrogen Council will continue to work with all hydrogen stakeholders on the required steps to reach the target of getting hydrogen to $2/kilogram and support the deployment and commercialisation of hydrogen.”

According to Deloitte, the economic potential of Australia’s hydrogen sector is large – up to $26 billion annually in additional GDP and 16,900 new jobs by 2050.