Australia has a big hydrogen potential, MCA says

According to a recent assessment by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), Australia has the potential to be a large clean hydrogen supplier and a global leader in the production of clean ammonia.

MCA CEO Tania Constable noted that Australia was well positioned to meet growing domestic and international demand for this crucial fuel thanks to significant carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) sites in Victoria and Queensland, competitive and accessible coal reserves, natural gas, and significant renewable energy generation capacity.

“Australia continues to collaborate on cutting-edge energy technologies with its partners. Australian business is working to provide long-term sources of clean hydrogen and ammonia, such as through the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project in Victoria, which uses gasified brown coal. Japan is a big investor in research, development, and implementation.

“At the same time, Australia is funding the construction of CCUS sites that are essential for producing fuel with no emissions, such as the Surat basin project of the Carbon Transport and Storage Company and the Victoria infrastructure and storage project of CarbonNet.

“Large-scale hydrogen and ammonia are now expensive, but creativity and diligence can provide a competitive solution to satisfy a dire need.”

The International Energy Agency estimates that clean hydrogen production will need to double by 2030 and expand six-fold by 2050 to fulfill this aim. Constable said that clean hydrogen played a key part in the majority of scenarios in which the world decarbonized by 2050. From the current annual output levels of over 90 million tonnes to more than 530 million tonnes, this represents an increase.

According to research from ACIL Allen, based on comparatively cautious estimates, Australia’s hydrogen exports by 2040 are expected to range between 0.62 million tonnes and 3.2 million tonnes. These exports were valued at approximately A$13.4 billion.

“Australia has the potential to be a cheap supplier of ammonia and pure hydrogen. Particularly, ammonia presents viable opportunities for the decarbonization of the world’s transport fleets, fertilizer manufacturing, and energy generation. According to Constable, this will necessitate the construction of new pipelines and storage facilities, particularly at ports.

Federal and state governments must concentrate on removing regulatory obstacles, including hastening licensing procedures for related infrastructure like pipelines, hydrogen fueling stations, and ammonia storage, in order to realize this potential.

The report also stated that during the following ten years, considerable support for innovation, particularly for demonstration projects, will be necessary. In order to ensure that low-carbon hydrogen realizes its full potential, it was further stated that international certification, standardization, and control would be essential. This is crucial for creating a global market for hydrogen that prevents the transfer of carbon emissions from one nation to another.

A fourth policy strand, according to the paper, would be increased cooperation between nations, particularly potential importing and exporting nations, in order to create the supply chains and more advanced, cost-effective technologies required to make large-scale international commerce a reality.

The resources needed for global decarbonization will be delivered in large part by the Australian resources sector. This contains numerous minerals that serve as the building blocks of novel storage technologies and electrolyzers in addition to hydrogen and ammonia. The optimum way to improve downstream processing for lithium, cobalt, nickel, and the variety of rare earth should be taken into consideration as part of this, according to Constable.

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