The COAG Energy Council has endorsed Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy developed by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel and agreed on action to help secure the reliability of the National Energy Market (NEM).
Energy Council Ministers noted that worldwide demand for hydrogen is set to increase substantially in coming decades.
The Strategy says Australia is well placed to become a major supplier, as countries such as Japan and South Korea look to hydrogen as a fuel source that can also help lower emissions.
Energy Council Ministers also agreed to task the Energy Security Board to provide advice on short-term reforms to maintain the reliability and security services required by the market.
This will include a review of the electricity reliability standard and consideration of an out-of-market strategic reserve. The advice, due by March 2020, will support actions to keep the lights on before important generation and storage projects such as Snowy 2.0 take effect.
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Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, released by the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council, outlines actions to support the development of a hydrogen industry that offers enormous benefits to Australia’s economy and environment.
“The National Hydrogen Strategy will set Australia on a path to become a major player in the global hydrogen industry by 2030,” Mr Taylor said.
“By growing strong domestic hydrogen industry, we will be able to see the practical benefits of hydrogen here at home with cheaper power bills, improved system reliability and emissions reduction.”
The Liberal National Government will take a national coordination role on the implementation of the Strategy through a $13.4 million commitment. This will build on the more than $146 million the Government has already committed to support hydrogen projects in Australia.
The Strategy includes the development of an inaugural National Hydrogen Infrastructure Assessment, working with the jurisdictions on implementing smart and consistent regulation, and addressing safety concerns through membership with the US Hydrogen Safety Centre.
The Government will also focus on building international trade partnerships and take a lead role in developing international hydrogen standards to advance Australia’s interest.
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The Federal Government says with the support of all governments, hydrogen exports could be worth around $11 billion a year in additional GDP and generate 7600 new jobs by 2050 – numbers The Australia Institute refutes.
It argues the hydrogen demand projections of Japan and South Korea in particular have been inflated “by a factor of 11”.
According to The Guardian, Japan’s economy, trade and industry ministry set a target of 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen by 2030, with the report estimates operating on figures of 875,000 and 3,858 million tonnes.
The Strategy has also come under fire from ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury, who says hydrogen production under the Strategy will be “technology neutral” after federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor blocked efforts to make hydrogen from renewable sources only. This means hydrogen production could potentially be propped up by coal.
Read the National Hydrogen Strategy here.