CME highlights hydrogen potential for WA

24th November 2021

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


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PERTH ( – A position paper by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) has highlighted the opportunities and challenges that a hydrogen economy would present to both the state of Western Australia, and Australia as a whole.

CME CEO Paul Everingham noted in the report that with the entrenchment of renewable energy and battery technologies in power and transport markets, clean hydrogen is more likely to find a market in applications where decarbonisation options are not established, where electrification is prohibitively expensive or technically unfeasible, or where hydrogen technology provides utilisation superiority over competitors.

He noted that the supply of clean hydrogen is likely to come from areas with established infrastructure and where there’s an abundance of cheap renewable energy or natural gas with the ability to capture and inject carbon dioxide.

“State and federal initiatives are under-resourced relative to international competitors, and industrial development support is yet to emerge to fully take account of the significant economic and technical challenges. Furthermore, legislative and regulatory reform is often uncertain and opaque, and hydrogen policies are not fully integrated into an energy-systems and economy-wide abatement framework,” he added.

The CME’s report examines nascent development pathways and global hydrogen use case examples, informed by competitiveness analysis by Australian Venture Consultants.

“Hydrogen has certainly become a high-profile commodity in recent times – and there are numerous CME member companies which are moving rapidly into that space,” CME director of policy and advocacy Rob Carruthers said.

“It’s easy to see why hydrogen has captured the imagination. It’s a versatile commodity that can carry stored energy or be converted into energy, and it produces no greenhouse-gas emissions when it is used or burnt.  

“The Western Australian mining and resources sector is one of a number of industries that is strongly focused on decarbonisation, and the significant potential for hydrogen to assist with that endeavour offers up a range of exciting opportunities for a state like Western Australia.”

Carruthers noted that there was a wide variety of initiatives at both levels of government geared around hydrogen, including the Western Australian Renewable Hydrogen Strategy at a state level and National Hydrogen Strategy being pursued federally.

“We welcome the strong interest of both the Western Australian and federal governments in hydrogen,” Carruthers said. 

“It’s clear that governments are on the front-foot in promoting these opportunities, and industry for its part is well advanced through various investments in research pilots and assessing prospective large-scale hydrogen developments from the top to the bottom of Western Australia, and also across Australia.”

However, the report found that those opportunities would only be realised in a competitive and timely fashion with an even greater focus on collaboration between industry and the state and federal governments.

“Given how competitive global hydrogen markets currently are and will continue to be, it’s vital to have aligned and well-targeted support from government that encourages the establishment of Western Australia as a user, producer and exporter of competitive, low-cost, reliable and clean hydrogen," Carruthers said.

“A number of recommendations in our report identify the form this support could take.

“This includes accelerating the establishment of hydrogen hubs to facilitate technological development and shared learnings,  the development of a practical multi-purpose land-use framework in Western Australia that supports both hydrogen development and other high value uses, and the need for state and federal alignment on certification for low-emissions hydrogen.

“Important to this is to ensure that we are technology agnostic, with the focus instead on ensuring the delivery of cost-competitive production, transportation and use cases that also, critically, provide certainty for decarbonisation pathways in line with national and state goals.” 

Carruthers said another aspect of developing a Western Australian hydrogen industry highlighted in the report was the requirement for a timely yet realistic and iterative development approach.

“Hydrogen is a very busy space, one in which Western Australia is now competing with other states in Australia and also countries around the world that are eyeing off similar opportunities,” he said.

“Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar, Oman and UAE are likely to be significant competitors when it comes to hydrogen, as they currently are in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, and it's crucial that Western Australia keeps pace.

“There also needs to be a realisation that hydrogen isn’t like LNG or iron-ore where Western Australia is at a competitive advantage simply because of its resources and reserves. Hydrogen can be produced anywhere around the world.

“We do have many things that will help, including land that could be made available to build large-scale renewable energy generation plants, high solar irradiance and plentiful wind resources, but these don’t provide a clear absolute competitive, or comparative, advantage.

“Our strong existing industry presence and upstream operational predominance in Western Australia may be helpful in attracting investment and be a source of advantage compared to other jurisdictions.”

Carruthers said demand identification for end uses of Western Australian-produced hydrogen was another key element explored in the report.

“There is a pathway being established for blending hydrogen into our existing natural gas networks and using hydrogen for domestic ammonia production, for example. However, as it stands Western Australia’s domestic demand is comparatively small, and we therefore need to explore opportunities to build on this and also look further afield for trade partners who would be interested in sources of large-scale hydrogen,” he said.

“As our paper outlines, Japan is a natural fit for hydrogen exports due to its long-time interest in incorporating hydrogen in its fuel mix, including increasing the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (HFCEVs),  and the strong LNG relationship it holds with Western Australia.

“Similarly, South Korea looms as a potentially attractive trade partner because of its targets around increasing the number of HFCEVs and refueling stations to support local manufacturing.”

“Both Japan and South Korea are excellent examples of long-term, mutually beneficial trade partnerships for Western Australia, which have the further potential to expand into hydrogen export in the decades to come.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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