Federal Government announces new $300m hydrogen fund

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The Federal Government is backing Australia to become a leader in hydrogen with the announcement of a new, $300 million fund: the Advancing Hydrogen Fund.

The new fund will finance projects focused on growing a clean, innovative and competitive hydrogen industry in Australia. It is the government’s first financing fund that is dedicated to hydrogen projects.  

The Fund will back projects that align with priorities under the National Hydrogen Strategy. This includes areas such as advancing hydrogen production, developing export and domestic supply chains, establishing hydrogen hubs and backing projects that build domestic demand for hydrogen. 

The Advancing Hydrogen Fund will be administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and will provide concessional finance for projects that will support a national hydrogen industry.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the Government is drawing on the energy and financial markets expertise of the CEFC, which has invested more than $7.7 billion in clean energy so far, to help drive investment in hydrogen. 

“This new fund will be a catalyst for the future growth of Australia’s hydrogen industry, which has the potential to boost Australia’s energy security, while creating more new jobs across the country and becoming a major new export industry,” Senator Cormann said.

“There are many innovative Australian organisations working to advance the hydrogen industry and this fund will support that work. Our Government is very committed to backing technological advances in the hydrogen industry.

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said the Advancing Hydrogen Fund met a commitment in the National Hydrogen Strategy, launched at the COAG Energy Council meeting in November last year to build Australia’s hydrogen industry into a global export industry by 2030.

“The Australian Government has a strong commitment to building a hydrogen industry which will create jobs, many in regional areas, and billions of dollars in economic growth between now and 2050,” Mr Taylor said.

“Importantly, if we can get hydrogen produced at under $2 a kilogram, it will be able to play a role in our domestic energy mix to bring down energy prices and keep the lights on.  

“Our hydrogen industry has the ability to make a tremendous positive impact both at home and overseas. From cheaper energy bills and job creation in regional Australia, to playing a role in reducing global emissions both at home and in countries that buy Australian produced hydrogen, the industry’s potential cannot be ignored.” 

Minister Taylor also noted that according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, this $300 million fund, along with the recently opened $70 million Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round administrated by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is one of largest commitments to the hydrogen sector made by any government in the world. 

The Australian Hydrogen Council has welcomed the commitment, stating the funds could be used to develop large-scale hydrogen production, domestic supply chains, hydrogen hubs or innovative transport or fuel uses.

Australian Hydrogen Council CEO Dr Fiona Simon said, “The government clearly recognises that we can’t take the foot off the accelerator – this pandemic is temporary, but our need for energy is permanent and growing.

“We must improve community and industry energy efficiency by harnessing the power of hydrogen,” she said.

The Australian Petroleum Productoin & Exploration Association (APPEA) similarly welcomed the announcement, with its CEO Andrew McConville stating the natural gas industry is well-placed to assist in the development of a large-scale hydrogen industry.

 “Australia’s LNG export success story means our industry has the technology, expertise and commercial and trade relationships to make hydrogen exports a reality,” Mr McConville said.

“There is tremendous interest globally in hydrogen as a new, cleaner fuel.  Australia is well placed to capitalise on our already abundant natural advantage.”