An economically-sustainable hydrogen industry could soon be on the cards, according to a blueprint released by the CSIRO.
The National Hydrogren Roadmap sets out a path for government and industry to develop the action and investment plans required to realise the full benefits of a hydrogen economy.
The Roadmap found that by 2025, clean hydrogen could be cost-competitive with existing industrial feedstocks such as natural gas, and energy carriers such as batteries in many applications.
It also suggests hydrogen could play a significant role in enabling the further uptake of renewable energy.
“The Roadmap describes Australia’s opportunity to turn significant natural resources, including coal, gas, and renewables like solar and wind energy, into a unique low-emissions energy product and ship it around the world – in some cases literally exporting Aussie sunshine,” CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said.
“CSIRO has already made early gains with partners in industry, government and the research sector, like developing an innovative membrane to separate hydrogen from ammonia for fuel cell vehicles.
“This National Hydrogen Roadmap provides a blueprint for the development of the hydrogen industry in Australia, by informing investment and policy development so the industry can scale in a coordinated manner.”
CSIRO Hydrogen Future Science Platform director Dr Patrick Hartley said industry interest is evident.
“We’ve established a strong network of partners and collaborators that support current, practical research and technology development initiatives right across the hydrogen energy value chain,” Dr Hartley said.
“And while much of the required technology is at a mature stage, there is considerable scope for further R&D to further improve process efficiencies and develop new applications.”
Energy Networks Australia was a member of the CSIRO-led Roadmap steering committee and the network sector contributed $80,000 towards its development.
Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon said across the sector there are many applications for hydrogen.
“We proactively engaged with CSIRO to identify the role networks could play in reducing emissions from the use of gas within homes and industry,” he said.
“Hydrogen by itself, or as blended with natural gas provides exciting opportunities.
“Just like renewable power generation offers emission reductions from electricity generation, hydrogen offers similar potential to sectors where electrification does not make sense.”
Mr Dillon said Australia’s gas infrastructure is suitable to deliver hydrogen and there is growing interest from network businesses.
“Innovation to reduce the production cost of hydrogen will see it make commercial sense to be used as a network fuel to complement or replace natural gas in coming decades,” he said.
“Modelling by the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group indicates that converting Victoria’s gas networks to hydrogen is 40 per cent cheaper than electrifying the energy supplied by gas networks.”
The national science agency consulted broadly to develop the Roadmap, which was sponsored by 21 industry and government bodies.