Australia is poised to take a world-leading role in producing low-emissions hydrogen, according to Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matthew Canavan.
Senator Canavan said the 2018 World Energy Outlook report had identified Australia as a major player in the production of hydrogen.
He said Australia’s existing infrastructure and expertise in hydrogen, as well as established and emerging projects in every state and territory, gave it a natural advantage in hydrogen production.
“The WEO report makes special note of the increasing opportunities for low-emissions hydrogen energy production and use, and uses Australia as an example of its vast potential to produce, use and export hydrogen,” Senator Canavan said.
“It could be a real game changer for emissions reductions and energy security.”
Senator Canavan said Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, was preparing a plan for a national hydrogen strategy, which the federal and state governments would consider next month.
One group with its eye firmly on hydrogen’s potential is Northern Oil, which plans to start manufacturing the gas at its Yarwun biorefinery in Gladstone.
Northern Oil, a Southern Oil Refining subsidiary, has purchased the first AFC Energy hydrogen power generation unit in Australia.
Southern Oil corporate and regulatory affairs spokesman, Troy Collings, said the company would take waste gas produced in the process of refining crude oil to produce cheap, stable hydrogen.
It would do this using a combination of chemical looping technology developed by the CSIRO and a steam-over-iron reform developed by a Queensland company in conjunction with Bangkok University, he said.
“We will have excess hydrogen, so when we looked at what we could do we found this company (AFC Energy), who have some interesting technology – it uses an alkaline fuel cell that uses hydrogen as an input to generate electricity,” Mr Collings said.
This electricity would go back into running Northern Oil’s biorefinery plant, he said.