National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) announced in a press release on Monday that the project will develop 13 regional hydrogen clusters made up small and medium-sized businesses.
NERA, state governments and industry made the joint investment of $1.85 million for the clusters through the Regional Hydrogen Technology Clusters Seed Funding Program, formed in September 2020.
NERA Chief Executive Miranda Taylor says these clusters mark Australia’s ambition to become a major competitor in the hydrogen energy industry by developing skills and market.
“Today marks a great step forward in Australia’s capability in developing hydrogen technologies,” Taylor said in a statement. “These regional clusters, all of which have the support of their state and territory governments, have been established around key, existing hydrogen projects and technology supply chains in strategic locations that have a demonstrated capacity to support them.”
She said this is a long term investment to capitalise in the growth of hydrogen. It will also bring existing businesses together making the Australian market stronger and more accessible globally.
Exporting hydrogen to overseas markets seeking greener options could increase Australia’s GDP by up to $26 billion, according to a 2019 Deloitte report.
Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor believes Australia is well-positioned to ride the wave of transition from traditional “grey” energies such as coal and gas to green energies like hydrogen energy.
Taylor explained that while hydrogen is currently made by gas methane, “there’s potential to make large quantities of it from water through a process called electrolysis.”
This then creates clean CSS hydrogen which can be stored permanently in tanks.
“That means it will be lower emissions, and there is potential to move hydrogen to lower emissions over time,” he said in an interview with 3AW on Monday.
Taylor mentioned that solar or wind power could also be used to make hydrogen.
“Hydrogen can be stored, it can be transported, and its a good fuel source to move around,” he said.
Hydrogen is most commonly used in farming to make nitro which is used as fertiliser. But it has the capability to power a substantial number of homes and vehicles when produced in large amounts.
“The biggest investment in transport is in heavy vehicles … so you’re seeing companies looking at hydrogen for mining trucks,” Taylor said.
The federal government has invested heavily in hydrogen energy, committing around $570 million in research and developments.