Hydrogen: Australia's coming energy export boom - saving the planet.

Australia’s next large energy export boom is on its way – and it will be clean energy - hydrogen produced from Green Energy

Hydrogen is on its way BNEF


Given policy and industry support a hydrogen economy is on its way, says BNEF in a new report, unlocking clean economy solutions for difficult sectors (transport, some industrial processes such as steel making and concrete) but also offering firming and seasonal storage to renewables.

 

 

If you want to understand how hydrogen works as a fuel follow this link to an explanation provided by COAG:

This action is being led by the States, big business and very wealthy individuals not the Federal Government.

Just look at the forecasts:

Hydrogen scale up

“Hydrogen scaling up, A sustainable pathway for the global energy transition”, Hydrogen Council 

Why now?

Governments around the world have worked out that hydrogen is a good replacement for oil and coal.  Japan has committed to purchasing hydrogen from green energy once a certain price point has been met. Hydrogen is versatile substrate with an existing market, and potential to become a versatile energy carrier, particularly when liquified for transport and or usage as ammonia or other compounds.

Hydrogen Council scale up

 

 

High-level economic modelling by ACIL Allen estimates that hydrogen exports could provide around $4 billion direct and indirect economic benefits to Australia by 2040 under medium demand growth settings.

ACIL Allen Consulting “Opportunities for Australia from Hydrogen Exports” August 2018, p. 6

 

In simple English Australia can make money out of exporting hydrogen

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Is this believable?

The following Australian organisations have assessed the opportunities and believe that there are great export opportunities for Australia:

The following State Territory Governments are trying to lead the race and get the benefits for their states:

 

One has to ask why Victoria is not also investing in this area.  

 

When will hydrogen become economically viable?

Bloomberg has published the following forecast of the cost of producing renewable hydrogen:

Hydrogen price forecast BNEF

This shows hydrogen becoming economically viable around 2030, with a possibility of some years earlier given public and government support.  Presumably the optimistic scenario occurs if our scientists and researchers provide the solutions and governments and investors fund the research and the resulting trials.

 

The good news is that funding for hydrogen production is ramping up across the world.  One recent example:

  • Germany has committed to fund 20 new research laboratories with a total of 100 million euros ($110 million) a year to test new hydrogen technologies for industrial-scale applications.  Further sums are being set aside for structural changes that may be necessary.

Can we follow the optimistic price part (based on well funded research and pilot projects) and reach economic viability by 2025?  

I suggest that we put our faith in our scientists and researchers.

AS hydrogen innovation and commercialisation pathway has been suggested by the Hydrogen Council

Ramping Up Hydrogen

Scientists and researchers are producing results:

CSIRO Hydrogen Membrane 

The Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation has developed a metal membrane which allows high-purity hydrogen to be separated from ammonia. The technology, now being trialed on an industrial scale in Australia, will allow hydrogen to be transported and used as an energy source. Hydrogen is difficult to transport over long distances because it has such a low density. Ammonia is a good way of transporting hydrogen because it is denser than liquid hydrogen. The technology the CSIRO has developed can then be applied at the point of delivery, converting ammonia back into hydrogen for use in transport fleets or electricity generation.

In addition the following Electrolysis breakthroughs were in the press in October 2019:

 

Saving the planet

So where does saving the planet come in?

Its fairly simple really.  

  • To make profits from the export boom Australia must learn to produce hydrogen from renewables economically;
  • As illustrated below this will involve:
    • Investors and governments funding scientists / researchers and providing funds for proof of concept and commercialisation trials;
    • Scientists and researchers producing solutions quickly. 

Australian Energy Pathway Mission Innovation

Here is a high level timetable of actions for hydrogen deployment from COAG's National Hydrogen Strategy page 12

COAG high level hydrogen strategy

  • However, developing the technologies / solutions necessary to support the export opportunity will mean that we also have developed hydrogen as an economic renewable form of generation capable of providing firming for wind and solar.
  • The combination of solar, wind, hydro and biomass generation supported by hydrogen at economic rates will mean that Australia will have the full solution to a renewable electricity supply.
  • In addition, hydrogen at economic rates will have a significant role to play in fuelling transport.

 


Research and text: David Strang

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