Hydrogen Council calls for A$10bn net zero fund

28th September 2021 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Australian Hydrogen Council has urged action on the part of the federal government in order to achieve net zero emissions with the assistance of the hydrogen industry.

In a White Paper released this week, the Council has advocated for the development of a new hydrogen planning body and the establishment of a A$10-billion Net Zero Fund, with an annual A$1-billion top-up until 2030.

The Fund would be administered by a new Net Zero Authority, which would combine and extend the current functions of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and use information from the planning body.

The planning body will be tasked with developing an evidence-based approach to planning and coordinating the transition to net zero, including the development of hydrogen infrastructure, and reporting progress. This body should be explicitly tasked with addressing how gas and electricity infrastructure can be co-optimised for delivering lowest cost hydrogen to end consumers, the Hydrogen Council said.

The Council has also recommended that the Australian government prioritises project funding to grow demand for hydrogen in the applications that are more likely to require clean hydrogen to decarbonise, and more likely to achieve large scale.

“Ideally these should demonstrate an ability to open the market to other applications, through knowledge/technology sharing, geographic proximity, and/or cost reduction,” the White Paper stated.

Early priorities should include funding for heavy vehicle trials, and trials for lighter trucks and buses, at a cost of at least A$565-million, and a hydrogen readiness programme of at least A$1-billion for industrial processes that cannot readily be electrified, including, and not exclusively, for the production of iron/steel, ammonia, methanol, and alumina/aluminium.

“Focusing on building scale and capability in the sectors and applications that will be hard to abate without hydrogen is the best ‘no regrets’ approach that can be taken in an uncertain environment. This approach should also actively build room for other applications that might value hydrogen at lower prices and with an established, and shared, infrastructure,” the Council stated.

“The hydrogen industry is not yet commercial and considerable investment is required. It is likely that capital investments to produce hydrogen alone could run to tens of billions of dollars. Until the industry has reached commercial scale, grant funding is essential. Public investment will unlock several times its value from the private sector,” the White Paper stated.