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Australian Government activities

Supporting research, pilots, trials and demonstrations

Pilots, trials and demonstrations are essential for new industries to evolve. The Australian Government is helping the industry develop demonstration and pilot hydrogen projects through a wide variety of initiatives. Australian Government funding for hydrogen includes:

Hydrogen research, knowledge sharing and collaboration is supported by work at:

  • CSIRO
  • Geoscience Australia
  • National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), an industry growth centre funded by the Australian Government.

Hydrogen also features in a number of cooperative research centres (CRCs) including:

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has also provided around $33 million in grants for hydrogen research.

Activating a Regional Hydrogen Industry: Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs program

The National Hydrogen Strategy identifies hydrogen hubs as the best way for the Australian industry to achieve scale.

Hydrogen hubs are regions where multiple hydrogen producers, user and potential exporters are co‑located. This minimises the cost of infrastructure such as powerlines, pipelines, storage tanks and refuelling stations.

The hub model will also build domestic demand by:

  • supporting economies of scale to deliver hydrogen to end users
  • sharing early movers’ risk across sectors.

Hydrogen hubs will create economies of scale to drive down costs of production, unlocking further demand for hydrogen as costs fall. Hubs will also create efficiencies by leveraging and supporting the existing industrial capabilities and workforces in relevant regions. Hubs will stimulate innovation and increase workforce skills development, as well as support other existing industrial sectors in these regions to lower both emissions and costs in doing business.

The Australian Government has announced $464 million from 2021–22 over 5 years for the Activating a Regional Hydrogen Industry: Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs program. This includes funding to support the early design works of hydrogen hubs, of which an estimated $30 million is available for Hydrogen Hub Development and Design Grants.

The Australian Government will provide over $300 million to fund carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) projects and advance technologies. This includes establishing CCUS hubs near high-emitting industrial areas. CCUS hubs may complement the hydrogen hubs by enabling the production of clean hydrogen from fossil fuels with CCS. The government has also developed an Emissions Reduction Fund method to credit abatement from new CCS projects.    

Regional hydrogen technology clusters

In February 2021, NERA announced a $1.85 million investment in 13 regional hydrogen technology clusters across all Australian states and territories.

The clusters will accelerate and optimise the development of hydrogen technology and expertise in Australia. The clusters also benefit from state and territory government funding and industry financial support.

ARENA unlocking hydrogen potential in research and development

In 2018, ARENA, on behalf of the Australian Government, set out to turn the potential of renewable hydrogen into a productive industry. ARENA awarded $22.1 million in funding to 16 hydrogen-related research teams across 9 universities and research institutions.

This work aims to unlock innovations at each point of the hydrogen export and supply chain, including production, energy carriers and end use.

Two and half years on, the projects are showing some remarkable results.

Hydrogen research – ammonia from renewables ($913,000 grant)

One project set out to produce ammonia from renewable energy at ambient temperatures and pressures. The project is led by Monash University in collaboration with the University of Wollongong.

The process uses renewable energy to power an electrolyser that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen can also be sourced from the atmospheric nitrogen using an air separation unit. This hydrogen can then be converted to ammonia using a non-Haber-Bosch process.

The team has achieved their milestones to date. They are also improving the performance of producing ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen at ambient conditions.

Reversible storage of hydrogen in carbons ($805,000 grant)

RMIT University is developing a system to store and transport renewable hydrogen in a dry carbon-based powder or slurry.

This would be cheaper to manage than liquid hydrogen, allowing more hydrogen to be exported. The technology is environmentally friendly and does not produce any emissions.

Testing of the novel ‘proton flow reactor’ system shows it can recover 60% of the hydrogen stored in the ‘wet to dry’ electrodes created for the project.

Hydrogen from efficient solar ($1.72 million grant)

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) set out to simplify the process of converting solar energy into hydrogen.

Existing systems use separate solar and electrolyser technologies, but ANU is developing an integrated solar hydrogen cell. This will boost efficiency and reduce infrastructure costs by eliminating the need for transmission lines, inverters and electrolysers.

The team has demonstrated efficiencies of 16% using perovskite-silicon tandem cells and low-cost catalysts. Their work has received international recognition, including being named a global top 10 innovation by the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum (ICEF) in 2020.

For a full list of hydrogen projects funded by ARENA, visit arena.gov.au/renewable-energy/hydrogen

ARENA Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round

Reducing the cost of renewable hydrogen will be vital to achieving the potential of the technology. Achieving the Australian Government’s target of $2 per kilogram of hydrogen will require cost reductions across the supply chain.

To support this, ARENA has conditionally approved $103.3 million towards 3 commercial-scale renewable hydrogen projects as part of its Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round.

Engie Renewables, ATCO Australia and Australian Gas Networks (AGIG) were selected to install 10 MW electrolysers at sites in Western Australia and Victoria. These 10 MW electrolysers would match the biggest built in the world so far, such as the REFHYNE project in Germany[45] and the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field at Namie town in Fukushima.[46]

Engie’s project will use renewable hydrogen to produce ammonia at the Yara Pilbara Fertilisers site. ATCO’s and AGIG’s projects will use renewable energy to produce renewable hydrogen for gas blending into existing natural gas pipelines.

Australia’s hydrogen industry is in its infancy. The lessons learned from these projects will help shape our hydrogen economy and support commercial-scale renewable hydrogen deployment in future.

CEFC Advancing Hydrogen Fund

The CEFC has made up to $300 million available to support the growth of the Australian hydrogen industry.  

The Advancing Hydrogen Fund focuses on projects that align with the National Hydrogen Strategy. It includes projects with financial support from state or territory governments.

Eligible projects will:

  • advance hydrogen production
  • develop export and domestic hydrogen supply chains, including infrastructure for hydrogen export
  • establish hydrogen hubs
  • help build domestic demand for hydrogen.

Mapping Australia’s Hydrogen Future – the Hydrogen Economic Fairways Tool

Geoscience Australia, in collaboration with Monash University, has developed a tool mapping the economic viability of hydrogen operations across Australia.

The Hydrogen Economic Fairways Tool (HEFT) helps policymakers and investors make decisions about the location of new infrastructure and the development of hydrogen hubs.

The tool conducts detailed geospatial-financial analysis of future large-scale hydrogen projects. It assesses the quality of energy resources required to produce hydrogen, such as:

  • wind
  • solar
  • concentrated solar power
  • hybrid wind and solar
  • fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage.

HEFT also assesses rail and road transportation infrastructure, pipelines to export ports and ready access to water.

Preliminary results show that economically viable regions for hydrogen production are located across Australia. All states and territories have regions with high potential.

The interactive tool lets users explore economic relationships within the hydrogen supply chain and determine the variables that will drive the cost of hydrogen production in Australia.

Geoscience Australia and Monash University are building an updated version of HEFT through the Australian Government’s Exploring for the Future program. The new version will add energy inputs for renewable hydrogen production, including hydropower, pumped hydro, and hybrid wind and hydro. It will also include underground options for large-scale hydrogen storage such as salt and depleted gas reservoirs.

You can access HEFT through Geoscience Australia’s hydrogen data portal at AusH2.ga.gov.au. The portal has over 7,000 additional geospatial datasets (including Geoscience Australia’s newly released renewable energy capacity factor maps).  

Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Project

The $500 million Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project is a world-first collaboration involving Japanese and Australian industry and the Victorian, Australian and Japanese Governments.

The project will safely produce and transport clean liquid hydrogen from the Latrobe Valley in Victoria to Kobe in Japan. This will be the first time that liquefied hydrogen has been transported between 2 continents.

The pilot will develop a complete hydrogen supply chain by:

  • creating hydrogen gas by gasifying Latrobe Valley brown coal
  • transporting it to the Port of Hastings to be converted into liquid hydrogen
  • shipping it to Kobe.

The Australian facilities commenced operations in March 2021. The first shipment of hydrogen from Australia to Japan is expected to occur between October 2021 and March 2022.

The decision to progress to a commercialisation phase, which will produce clean hydrogen from coal with CCS, will be made after the pilot project is completed. A commercial HESC could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.8 million tonnes a year and would require carbon capture and storage to store CO₂ emissions. The Victorian and Australian Governments' CarbonNet project is developing a multi-user CCS hub network in Gippsland as a key enabler of new decarbonised industries, including clean hydrogen production.

Carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS)

Ongoing investments in CCUS are critical to reducing the costs of clean hydrogen produced from steam methane reforming and coal gasification. These cost reductions are needed for a competitive clean hydrogen industry in Australia.

The Australian Government will provide over $300 million to:

  • fund carbon CCUS projects
  • help establish CCUS hubs near high-emitting industrial areas
  • support research, development and commercialisation efforts.

This includes establishing a $250 million CCUS Hubs and Technologies Program. The program will fund demonstration and commercial-scale CCUS projects and hubs, as well as accelerate the development of CO₂ utilisation technologies with export potential.

The government will also develop a National CCUS Technology Emissions Abatement Strategy. This strategy will:

  • signal government priorities for CCUS
  • improve policy frameworks
  • guide coordination to deploy CCUS hubs.

This new funding builds on the $50 million CCUS Development Fund announced in the 2020–21 Budget. The CCUS Development Fund supports pilot and pre-commercial CCUS projects. Grant recipients were announced in June 2021.

The government has also announced the development of an Emissions Reduction Fund method to credit abatement from new CCS projects.    

Hydrogen-ready generators

The Australian Government is providing $24.9 million for hydrogen-ready turbines and associated infrastructure in new gas generators.

The first gas generator to receive funding under this program is EnergyAustralia’s 316 MW Tallawarra B dual fuel capable power station, currently under development in New South Wales. The government will provide $5 million to complement support being provided by New South Wales to support the plant being made hydrogen ready.

The Australian Government has also committed up to $600 million for Snowy Hydro Limited to construct a 660 MW open cycle gas turbine at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley, which will be hydrogen-ready.

Hydrogen-ready turbines can use natural gas and clean hydrogen in varying blends. A number of gas manufacturers are already manufacturing and selling these turbines around the world.

Demonstrating hydrogen-ready turbines in Australia will prove their technical capability and enable their use around the world. This will increase the demand for Australian clean hydrogen domestically and internationally and ensure these generators remain commercially competitive.

Future Fuels Strategy and Future Fuels Fund

In November 2021 the Australian Government released the first national Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy, which is backed by an expanded $250 million Future Fuels Fund investment.

This technology-led strategy will see the government work with industry to:

  • enhance consumer choice
  • create jobs
  • reduce emissions in Australia’s transport sector.

The strategy also puts practical action behind the Low Emissions Technology Statement 2021 priority for enabling infrastructure. Public electric vehicle charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is a priority for investment under the Future Fuels Fund.

The Future Fuels Fund will support the assessment of deployment needs and opportunities to roll out hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to meet demand. The fund will also support demonstration of hydrogen refuelling stations for hydrogen hubs, major freight routes and passenger road corridors in Australia.

Hydrogen research collaborations and knowledge sharing

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and CSIRO have established the Australian Hydrogen Researcher Network.

The network brings together stakeholders from across Australia’s hydrogen research and development community. It identifies research gaps and enables collaborative research to help develop Australia’s hydrogen industry.

The network will deliver the department’s $5 million researcher mobility and research collaborations program, with CSIRO as a partner.

CSIRO Hydrogen Industry Mission

CSIRO’s Hydrogen Industry Mission will help achieve the National Hydrogen Strategy’s vision of a globally competitive Australian hydrogen industry.

Through research, development and demonstration (RD&D) partnerships and projects, the mission will help:

  • increase demand for hydrogen
  • drive down hydrogen costs
  • create jobs
  • achieve lower emissions energy systems.

Formally launched on 26 May 2021, the mission is founded on CSIRO’s existing long-term research capability and effort in hydrogen energy RD&D.

Hydrogen knowledge centre

One important mission initiative is developing a Hydrogen Knowledge Centre as a national resource for industry, government and the research community.

The knowledge centre will highlight developments in Australia's hydrogen industry and provide tools and resources for new entrants to the industry. The first module, HyResource, was launched in September 2020 with NERA, the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre and the Australian Hydrogen Council.

Feasibility and strategy studies

The mission will provide analysis and independent advice on hydrogen opportunities to government, industry and the community.

CSIRO has already made contributions including:

  • the 2018 National Hydrogen Roadmap
  • hydrogen cost modelling and barrier analysis for the National Hydrogen Strategy
  • a report (with long-term partner Boeing) on the contribution that clean hydrogen-based technologies can make to emissions reduction in the aviation sector.

Demonstration projects

The mission is developing demonstration projects that validate hydrogen value chains and reduce risks for enabling technologies.

One example is the hydrogen refuelling station and hydrogen technology demonstration facility at the Victorian Hydrogen Hub. Located at CSIRO’s Clayton campus in Melbourne, the project is a collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology and the Victorian Government. 

Enabling science and technology solutions

The mission is working with partners to deliver enabling science and technology solutions and socio-economic analysis to help the hydrogen industry scale up.

This includes CSIRO’s Hydrogen Energy Systems Future Science Platform. It also includes a major partnership with Fortescue Metals Group focusing on the development and commercialisation of new hydrogen technologies.

Hydrogen Industry Mission partners

CSIRO and its partners will invest more than $68 million in the development of Australia’s industry-relevant hydrogen RD&D capabilities. 

As Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO is in a unique position to bring research, government and industry together.

Hydrogen Industry Mission partners include:

  • Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
  • ARENA
  • Fortescue Metals Group
  • Swinburne University
  • Victorian Government
  • Future Fuels CRC
  • NERA
  • Australian Hydrogen Council
  • other collaborators such as Toyota, Hyundai and Boeing.

International engagement

As countries look to decarbonise their economies, the Australian Government is working closely with trading and strategic partners to deliver on our commitments and goals.

The Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technology, Dr Alan Finkel, plays a key role in brokering international low emissions technology partnerships. These partnerships will deliver projects that advance the goals of the Technology Investment Roadmap, including clean hydrogen.

The Australian Government committed $565.8 million to international partnerships through the 2021–22 federal Budget. Partnerships will use a co-investment model, recognising the different roles that export and import markets play in the industry.

These partnerships will build on existing collaboration with strategic trading partners including Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Bilateral engagement

Bilateral agreements are crucial to making Australia a hydrogen partner of choice. They can include commitments to:

  • promote trade and investment
  • prove the feasibility of supply chains
  • build technical collaborations to support research and development.

Japan

Australia signed the Joint Statement of Cooperation on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells with Japan in January 2020. This builds on our countries’ collaboration on the HESC pilot project.

In June 2021 the Australian and Japanese Governments announced a new partnership. The Japan–Australia Partnership on Decarbonisation through Technology will increase our shared focus on priority low emissions technologies, including clean fuel ammonia and clean hydrogen. 

Germany

In September 2020, Australia and Germany signed a joint declaration of intent to study the feasibility of a supply chain for renewable hydrogen. Known as HySupply, the feasibility study started in December 2020. A consortium led by the University of New South Wales, Deloitte and Baringa Partners are the Australian partners for the study.

In June 2021 the Australian and German governments announced a series of new initiatives to accelerate the development of a hydrogen industry under a new Hydrogen Accord.

Under the accord, Australia and Germany will:

  • establish HyGATE, the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator. HyGATE will co-fund pilot, trial, demonstration and research projects along the renewable hydrogen supply chain. Australia will contribute $50 million and Germany €50 million
  • facilitate industry-to-industry cooperation on demonstration projects in Australian hydrogen hubs
  • explore options to export renewable hydrogen and ammonia from Australia to Germany.

Korea

Australia signed a letter of intent with the Republic of Korea on 27 September 2019. The countries agreed to develop a hydrogen action plan and cooperate on hydrogen development.

A new low and zero emissions partnership with the Republic of Korea was signed on 31 October 2021. This partnership will support research on hydrogen supply chains between the countries.

Singapore

Australia and Singapore developed a Memorandum of Understanding on Low Emissions Technologies, which includes cooperation on hydrogen. The memorandum was signed by Australia’s Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction on 26 October 2020.

In June 2021 the Australian Government announced a new $30 million partnership with Singapore. This partnership will accelerate the deployment of low emissions fuels and technologies (like clean hydrogen) in maritime and port operations. The partnership recognises Singapore’s role as a major shipping hub and Australia’s ambition to be a leader in the use of clean hydrogen and clean ammonia.

Each country will commit up to $10 million over 5 years to fund industry-led pilot and demonstration projects. Industry is expected to provide at least $10 million of additional investment.

Multilateral engagement

Australia is engaging in international forums to:

  • shape the rules for hydrogen trade and investment
  • share best practices for RD&D and community engagement
  • encourage private sector investment.

Our influence in these forums ensures Australian hydrogen will be accepted around the world.

Australia led the Mission Innovation Renewable and Clean Hydrogen Challenge along with Germany and the European Commission. We are co-leading a new Mission Innovation initiative on hydrogen with Chile, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The initiative will speed up clean hydrogen innovation to achieve performance breakthroughs and lower costs.

Australia is a member of the Center for Hydrogen Safety, a global non-profit dedicated to promoting hydrogen safety and best practices. This is informing the development of domestic skills and training for the hydrogen industry.

Other multilateral forums on hydrogen Australia is part of include:

Austrade support for the hydrogen industry

Austrade is helping position Australia as a reliable producer of clean hydrogen to meet future global demand. It is attracting international project developers and technology providers to develop the global hydrogen industry with Australian partners. 

This includes:

  • engaging with foreign governments and industry to promote Australia as a preferred partner to supply hydrogen
  • helping connect Australian projects with investors, leading to offtake agreements
  • promoting Australia to global energy companies, technology companies and fund managers as a place to invest
  • building a global hydrogen industry with long-term economic opportunities for Australians.

Austrade helped Kawasaki Heavy Industries and its partners launch the $496 million Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot project in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. Austrade provided assistance including:

  • coordinating meetings with Australian Government ministers
  • providing advice on Australian Government funding programs
  • intergovernmental coordination.

Austrade introduced Origin Energy to POSCO, one of South Korea’s biggest steelmakers. The companies are investigating exports of renewable hydrogen made in Tasmania and Queensland.

Austrade introduced Stanwell Corporation to Japanese company Iwatani and Singapore’s Keppel DC. The companies are developing Gladstone’s green hydrogen export hub.

Hydrogen Guarantee of Origin scheme

Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy identified a Guarantee of Origin or certification scheme for hydrogen as an early priority.

A Guarantee of Origin scheme will offer transparency to consumers on how and where the hydrogen they choose to buy is produced. This includes identifying the energy source and technology used to produce it, as well as associated carbon emissions. The scheme is a vital step towards global trade in this new clean energy.

The Australian Government is developing the Guarantee of Origin scheme for hydrogen. In June 2021 the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources released a discussion paper outlining the proposed design of a domestic hydrogen Guarantee of Origin scheme.

The department is taking a lead role in the Production Analysis Taskforce of the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE). The taskforce is developing a methodology to determine the greenhouse gas emissions of different hydrogen production pathways. The proposed scheme aligns with Australia’s requirements and our work through IPHE.

The Australian Government has announced $9.7 million to support trials of the Guarantee of Origin scheme in Australia. We are to conduct these trials with the Clean Energy Regulator.

Footnotes

  1. ARENA has committed over $160 million to hydrogen projects, and has $1.62 billion available to support the next generation of energy technologies
  2. European Commission: Clean Refinery Hydrogen for Europe, accessed September 2021
  3. Toshiba Energy Systems Press Release, accessed September 2021