As part of talks during the G-7 summit, Australia co-signed the Australia-Germany Hydrogen Accord and built on previous commitments made with Japan to invest in hydrogen initiatives.
Hydrogen has been put forward as a technology that can be used in the energy and transport sectors, as its lack of carbon emissions supports Germany’s goal to reach net zero by 2045 and Japan by 2050—a target Australia is also tentatively aiming for.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has maximised the use of hydrogen, previously announcing $540 million (US$420 million) towards hydrogen and carbon capture projects—part of a “technology not taxes” approach to emissions reduction.
Morrison’s new deal will see an additional $50 million (US$39 million) from Australia and €50 million (US$61 million) from Germany to support research and development of hydrogen supply chain projects, part of a German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator (HyGATE).
“Our partnership with Germany will accelerate the development of an Australian hydrogen industry and create new jobs,” Morrison said in a media release.
The Australian Government has positioned hydrogen as a crucial low emissions technology, one of five key areas in its Technology Investment Roadmap.
Part of the collaboration involves setting the bar of producing “clean” hydrogen—made using electrolysis and power—to a competitive price of $2 per kg, equivalent to the cost of producing the element through burning coal.
“We have a mix of all the key ingredients needed to be a major global player in a thriving global clean hydrogen industry—abundant land and energy resources coupled with an excellent track record and reputation as a reliable energy partner,” Morrison said.
“Our ambition is to produce the cheapest clean hydrogen in the world, which will transform transport, mining, resources and manufacturing at home and overseas.”
The deal also aims to help establish Australia’s “hydrogen hubs,” a concept critical to lowering hydrogen export costs that involve positioning hydrogen producers and exporters in close physical proximity, minimising transport and other infrastructure costs.
On top of the new agreement with Germany, Australia strengthened its joint commitment with Japan to support emissions reduction.
“Japan and Australia commit to jointly support initiatives that will help drive the transitions to net zero emissions,” stated Morrison in a media release, listing hydrogen as key in reducing emissions, along with natural gas and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The commitment builds on existing cooperation between the two island nations, including the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC), the Japan-Australia Energy and Resources Dialogue (JAERD), and the Australia-Japan Joint Statement of Cooperation on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.
Under the HESC, Australia had already piloted a world-first hydrogen export project to Japan in Victoria, which produced hydrogen through burning coal with hopes to capture the emissions in using CCS in the future.
The project also saw a commitment made to produce a hydrogen export hub in Queensland, hoping to export 36,500 tonnes of hydrogen to Japan every year.
Morrison’s aggressive hydrogen push follows a previously expressed desire to have “Australia and hydrogen technology to be synonymous around the world.”