The National Hydrogen Strategy sets out the pathway to develop Australia’s hydrogen industry.
Early activities are already helping the industry grow, and we will build on this foundation. Ongoing collaborative and coordinated effort is required to take these activities to the next level and give the industry the best chance of success.
Australia’s emerging and promising hydrogen industry is off to a good start. We are keeping pace with other fast-moving countries as the global industry emerges. To keep up with potential international competition, Australia must continue to build on the work already underway and keep implementing the adaptive pathway set out in the strategy.
Accelerating enabling activities
Becoming a major hydrogen exporter relies on building international partnerships and reducing costs across the supply chain.
Future activities will build on work that is currently underway. Australian Government priorities for coming years include the following measures that will help to drive down the cost of hydrogen production towards the $2/kg goal:
- continuing to engage internationally to build export relationships
- building domestic demand for hydrogen by implementing the Activating a Regional Hydrogen Industry Program and state and territory hydrogen hubs programs
- continuing to contribute to international efforts to design an international methodology for hydrogen certification. This includes trialling hydrogen certification methodologies on real-world projects and using the results to inform domestic and international methodologies.
The federal, state and territory governments will collectively focus on:
- implementing a program of legal and regulatory reform, informed by the current review of legal frameworks
- reforming National Gas Laws to accommodate gas blending in distribution networks
- completing the National Hydrogen Infrastructure Assessment and considering its findings
- enhancing and expanding community engagement, particularly for hydrogen hubs development
- continuing work around industry development, including skills and training
- implementing funding programs to demonstrate applications across the hydrogen supply chain.
These crucial activities will help create an investment environment in which the Australian industry can move from ambition to achievement. The accelerated growth of the industry will be vital in driving down production costs and further developing end-use technologies to build demand.
Continuing international engagement
The Australian Government will continue engaging with other countries to build export relationships and capture market share.
The work of the Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technologies is enhancing these relationships by co-investing in research and demonstration projects with international partners. These projects will prove technology, demonstrate supply chains and foster innovation and collaboration.
International partnerships will drive investment in Australian projects and accelerate the development of practical technologies. They will help secure international offtake for Australian hydrogen to reduce costs in energy carriers and exports and bridge the gap in delivered costs.
State governments are also collaborating with international partners:
- The South Australian Government signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate clean hydrogen exports to the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
- Tasmania is exploring areas for collaboration and cooperation with key international partners.
Building domestic demand for hydrogen
While export markets are emerging, Australia needs to keep building domestic demand for hydrogen. This will help the industry achieve scale, which is critical for bringing costs down and becoming a globally competitive supplier.
Creating domestic demand remains a challenge, but is also a large opportunity. Reaching the Technology Investment Roadmap’s stretch goal of hydrogen production for $2 a kilogram will allow hydrogen to become competitive with some alternative fuels. Some applications for hydrogen will become economically viable sooner than others, and these present opportunities for early adoption.
Industry is acting thanks to government support. Demonstration projects are underway or being developed for most major uses of hydrogen. Ammonia production is the most mature, and progress is also being made on trials to blend hydrogen into gas.
There are opportunities for governments and industry to develop more end-use applications. This includes using hydrogen to develop a clean steel industry – another priority technology of the Technology Investment Roadmap. Although clean steel is not expected to reach cost parity until after 2030, Australia’s mineral resources offer an opportunity for domestic clean steel manufacturing.
The federal, state and territory governments are responding with significant support to help the hydrogen industry develop. This includes the Australian Government’s $464 million in funding for hydrogen hubs and pilot, trial and demonstration projects.
Hydrogen hubs will significantly boost clean hydrogen demand for a range of applications. Co‑locating hydrogen users, producers and exporters in hubs will:
- create economies of scale for larger hydrogen supply chains
- provide opportunities for shared infrastructure
- create focal points for innovation and skills development.
In addition, the Australian Government’s Future Fuels Strategy and Fund will support the rollout of hydrogen refuelling stations, enabling greater use of hydrogen in transport applications.
Future areas of work
Work has started on most of the actions identified in the National Hydrogen Strategy. However, some actions rely on current actions being completed, while others will need to wait until the industry is more developed. Areas of work that will be commencing in coming years are outlined below.
Energy market reforms
In the medium term, electricity and gas costs are the biggest driver of if and when we will bring hydrogen production costs under $2.
The choice of on-grid or off-grid hydrogen production will depend on how close to end users the hydrogen can be produced, as well as strategic application of sector coupling. Future energy market planning and reforms need to consider both on-grid and off-grid applications. Governments are doing substantial work to reduce costs, including designing the post-2025 energy market.
The National Hydrogen Strategy recommends reviewing energy market reforms in 2024 to improve the integration of hydrogen into energy markets and ensure it is cost effective. By 2024, the review will be able to draw on the results of pilots, trials and demonstration projects.
Domestic hydrogen production and use could improve Australia’s energy security where hydrogen is stored in pipelines or dedicated storage. Security benefits may include:
- better integration of variable wind and solar generation into the electricity supply
- improved electricity system resilience to generation and transmission disturbances
- a more diverse energy supply
- less reliance on fuel imports.
To capture these benefits, Australian governments will examine the role of hydrogen in energy security by 2025.
The National Hydrogen Infrastructure Assessment is currently underway. It will:
- identify infrastructure needs for the emerging industry
- prompt a need to consider, fund and develop common infrastructure in an efficient and cost-effective way
- consider the inputs from other relevant sector assessments, including the National Gas Infrastructure Plan.
The assessment will be repeated at least once every 5 years to highlight future infrastructure needs for competitive hydrogen supply chains. Governments will need to consider how to implement the findings of the infrastructure assessment.
Skills and training
The South Australian Government and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment are developing nationally consistent training materials and guidelines for producing, transporting and using hydrogen. These materials and guidelines will be the first step towards a robust framework of skills and training activities that support a hydrogen-ready workforce.
From 2025 to 2030, Australian governments will work with industry to:
- establish clear pathways between hydrogen-related education and training and hydrogen-related employment
- ensure industry reference committees review, update and develop units of competency and qualifications as hydrogen becomes more relevant to industry training packages.
Collaboration will deliver the vision in the strategy
Australian energy ministers share a vision for a clean, innovative, safe and competitive hydrogen industry that benefits all Australians and is a major global player by 2030. The National Hydrogen Strategy provides a framework for Australian governments and industry to work together to build Australia’s hydrogen industry and achieve that vision.
The future for hydrogen is bright, and there is immense opportunity for future prosperity. We can work together to build lasting partnerships between industry, investors, researchers, governments and the broader community to take advantage of these opportunities. Future areas for mutual collaboration include:
- removing barriers identified by legal frameworks and gas networks reviews
- coordinated infrastructure investment between governments and industry to deliver on infrastructure review findings
- accelerating hydrogen skills development and training to build domestic capability and provide jobs for Australians
- building hydrogen hubs to concentrate investment and create domestic demand and export opportunities
- working with communities to build public trust and confidence around hydrogen. Public trust is vital for any new industry or technology.
As projects move from planning to development, more community engagement will be needed, particularly in areas with regional hydrogen hubs and infrastructure. This will ensure that regional Australians directly benefit from the growth of the hydrogen industry in their area.
We are on track to deliver the National Hydrogen Strategy’s vision. The rapid global growth of hydrogen means we must continue with our collaborated and coordinated effort. We look forward to meeting this challenge and reinforcing Australia’s position as a world leader in hydrogen.