The push to fast-track Australia’s renewable hydrogen industry continues this week, with $22.1 million in ARENA grant funding extended to 16 different and national research and development projects.
The funding, announced on Thursday, has been offered to research teams from nine Australian universities and organisations including the ANU, Macquarie and Monash Universities, QUT, RMIT, The University of Melbourne, UNSW, the University of WA, and the CSIRO.
The funding, and the number of projects it will support, underscore the rapidly growing interest in renewable hydrogen, as a low-carbon fuel source, a potentially valuable export commodity, and as a form of energy storage.
It follows a series of major reports – including from the CSIRO, ARENA, and Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel – highlighting the potential of clean hydrogen, as “versatile energy carrier and feedstock” as Australia moves to decarbonise its economy.
The CSIRO report, published just over two weeks ago, suggested clean hydrogen could be cost-competitive with existing industrial fuels like natural gas, and with emerging energy storage technologies like batteries, by 2025.
In a statement on Thursday, ARENA said the R&D projects targeted by the funding covered a diverse range of solutions, with at least one from each point in the supply chain: production, hydrogen carrier, and end use.
The projects include the development of a wide range of hydrogen-related technologies including concentrating solar thermal, electrolysis, biotechnology, carrier synthesis, thermochemical processes, fuel cell development and energy generation. (See the table below for the complete list.)
Among them is the CSIRO’s hydrogen to ammonia study, which – as we reported here – has been testing a breakthrough method to transport hydrogen safely.
As ARENA notes, hydrogen – or carriers like ammonia – are potentially ways for Australia to export its abundant resources of renewable energy.
“Exporting renewable energy, such as by the use of hydrogen, involves developing and integrating emerging technologies,” said ARENA’s new CEO, Darren Miller.
“This funding will help bolster the research efforts of Australian scientists to drive innovation for what could become the next big export industry.
“Hydrogen is poised to play a big role in the world’s low carbon economy. Already, Japan and South Korea have committed to becoming major import markets for renewable hydrogen but as yet there are no exporters.
“With its abundance of sun and wind, and experience as one of the world’s largest LNG exporters, Australia is ideally placed to become a global superpower in exporting renewable energy, and this work will help position us as leaders in this field,” Miller said.