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State Govt to invest in "green hydrogen" industry

Science & Tech

The State Government wants to create a hydrogen export industry as part of a strategy that includes opening hydrogen refuelling stations across South Australia.

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At the moment Australia lacks permanent refuelling stations for hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars, which are touted as a potentially green alternative given they only emit water (although the effective carbon emissions from a vehicle depend on how the hydrogen was produced).

State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said today the Government was opening its renewable technology fund to pitches from companies to open hydrogen refuelling stations across South Australia.

He said the move would give motorists a new green transport choice, alongside electric vehicles.

The Government is also planning to add “at least” six hydrogen fuel cell buses to its Adelaide Metro fleet within the next two years.

However, Koutsantonis said the bigger ambition was to attract international investment in hydrogen production in South Australia, including creating an export industry to serve growing hydrogen economies in Japan, Korea and China, and making the state a “test bed” for hydrogen technology.

He released a “Hydrogen Roadmap” designed to encourage local production from renewable sources, rather than brown coal or gas, which he said were commonly used to produce hydrogen.

“We aspire to be a hydrogen-producing state – we aspire to export hydrogen,” he said.

Excess energy production from renewable sources could be used to produce hydrogen, as a “third arm” of a strategy to better use excess renewable energy production, alongside battery storage and pumped hydro.

He said export markets were opening in places like Japan, which has legislated a “hydrogen road map” and has promised to make the Tokyo Olympics the “hydrogen games“, with the fuel source to be used widely.

“That means they are creating the demand; that means they are going to start weaning off gas.”

The Government has called for hydrogen infrastructure proposals under the $150 million renewable technology fund, and has released an interactive map to help potential investors and developers identify local sites suitable for hydrogen infrastructure.

Some of the world’s leading car companies have released hydrogen-powered models, but they remain a rarity in Australia.

Toyota’s senior executive and director of hydrogen mobility in Australia, Bernie O’Connor, said hydrogen would “play a key role as a source for stationary, distributed and transportation power generation”.

“Our long-term vision is a future hydrogen economy and society built upon clean and renewable energy technologies,” O’Connor said.

Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. It can be produced for use in fuel cells using any number of resources including fossil fuels and renewable energy through a wide range of processes.

The challenge is transporting and storing it, with the CSIRO involved in a two-year project to work on its proposed solution.

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