In November, Mr Taylor secured the support of the Council of Australian Governments energy council to develop a hydrogen industry under a “technology-neutral” approach that embraced gas and coal as well as renewable energy. Chief Scientist Alan Finkel endorsed this approach in February.
However, Labor-led governments in Queensland, Western Australia and the ACT have argued fossil-fuelled hydrogen should be barred from publicly funded stimulus, which should be reserved for green hydrogen.
Mr Taylor said his technology investment road map would be released for public consultation soon. In his first detailed statement on the initiative, issued in February, Mr Taylor said he would work with industry to set the agenda for the nation’s future energy supply.
The government has estimated an Australian hydrogen industry could create more than 8000 jobs and generate about $11 billion a year in GDP by 2050.
Eminent economist Ross Garnaut, a prominent backer of hydrogen, said the technology could enable Australia to “emerge as a global superpower in energy, low-carbon industry and absorption of carbon in the landscape”.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will select proposals in the form of pre-feasibility studies for projects that use electrolysis to generate at least five-megawatt power generation capacity, and preferably 10 megawatts or bigger.
Hydrogen fuel can be produced by using electrolysis to split water into its constituent parts of oxygen and hydrogen, and the hydrogen is stored as a gas or liquid power source.
ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said Australia was well placed to become a major renewable hydrogen producer and exporter.
“We are blessed with some of the world’s best wind and solar resources, a large sparsely populated landmass, and as a major energy and resources exporter, we are already an experienced and trusted trading partner for countries like Japan and South Korea that will be the future hydrogen importers,” Mr Miller said.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has $300 million set aside in its Advancing Hydrogen Fund to offer concessional funding to hydrogen projects.
Mike is the climate and energy correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.