The Australian Labor Party has announced that, if elected, they would deliver a $1 billion National Hydrogen Plan in order to create new jobs, support new businesses and ‘supercharge Australia’s renewable energy industry’.
Hydrogen is an emerging industry that has huge potential to deliver significant economic, jobs, fuel security and environmental benefits to Australia.
In a 2018 report for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), ACIL Allen Consulting predicts that hydrogen exports could contribute $3.6 billion per annum to the economy and generate nearly 6,000 jobs by 2030. This is projected to grow to $10 billion of exports per annum by 2040, and 16,000 new jobs.
Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labor Party, Bill Shorten, said most of the benefits of hydrogen development would occur in regional Australia and the deep-sea water ports of Gladstone and Newcastle, for example, are well placed to support a hydrogen export industry.
“While benefiting the nation as a whole, regional Queensland will be the big winner from Labor’s plan,” he commented.
“Labor is taking a hands-on approach to supporting the new jobs and industries Queensland needs for the future,” said Mr Shorten, “hydrogen can be the next great energy industry for Australia – and Labor has a plan to make it happen.”
Under the National Hydrogen Plan:
1. $1 billion of funding would be allocated from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to support clean hydrogen development. This will derive from Labor’s previous commitment to double CEFC’s capital by $10 billion.
2. Up to $90 million of unallocated funding from ARENA would be put towards supporting research, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment of hydrogen technologies.
3. A $10 million ARENA funding round would be established for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure around the nation, from within ARENA’s unallocated funding.
4. $40 million of unallocated funding from the CEFC Clean Energy Innovation Fund would be invested to target hydrogen technologies and businesses that have passed the research and development stage.
5. Regulatory reforms would be implemented to assist the industry develop and prosper, including reforms to support the use of existing gas pipelines for hydrogen, reforms to support the shipping of hydrogen, reforms to better support the storage of CO2 from blue and brown hydrogen production, as well as other reforms to support hydrogen use and production.
6. A National Hydrogen Innovation Hub would be established in Gladstone with an initial investment of $3 million. This would kick-start early commercialisation of hydrogen technologies, provide a hub for investment and research agencies, and provide opportunities to leverage LNG infrastructure to support hydrogen exports.
The industry responds:
Labor’s announcement was welcomed by several peak energy organisations including the Clean Energy Council and Energy Networks Australia.
Clean Energy Council’s Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said Australia is well placed to take advantage of the growing global demand for clean hydrogen.
“Labor’s National Hydrogen Plan could create a new export industry powered by our world-class wind and sunshine, which may one day rival resource commodities such as liquid natural gas. Hydrogen can also be used as a zero-emission fuel in vehicles,” commented Mr Thornton.
Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, also explained that while the potential for export is enormous, one of the most exciting properties of hydrogen is its potential to serve as a large-scale battery, utilising existing gas networks.
“As Energy Networks Australia’s Gas Vision 2050 report has demonstrated, hydrogen’s scope is impressive, with potential to widen a customer’s power options, improve and increase renewable generation and even create a new energy export market,” said Mr Dillon.
A fact sheet on Labor’s National Hydrogen Plan can be found here.