The Northern Territory has unveiled a strategy to transform Australia’s Top End into a world leader in the transition to renewable hydrogen and to contribute to the NT Labor government’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The 20-page Renewable Hydrogen Strategy (PDF), published on Friday, detail’s the Territory’s aspirations to be “an international-scale” hub for renewable hydrogen technology research, production and downstream manufacturing.
The paper argues that the NT is ideally suited to play this role, due to its abundant solar resource, abundant “tracts of land,” close proximity to well-established Asian export markets, and its also established world-scale energy production and export industry.
The NT is also the home for the proposed Sun Cable project, potentially building the world’s biggest solar farm (10GW) and the biggest battery storage facility (30GWh), but with the view to exporting most of that output via sub-sea cable to Singapore and other countries. It is, however, also open to selling output to hydrogen developers.
The government Strategy – which has been designed to be implemented in parallel with Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, itself published by COAG in late 2019 – outlines a five-point plan for government and industry to follow.
This includes the development of local industry, including logistics and supply chains; the establishment of resource management infrastructure; the fostering of demand for both exports and domestic hydrogen applications; support for innovation; and development of “responsive regulation” to guide the industry.
“This Labor government understands the enormous potential our renewable energy resources have to create permanent local jobs for Territorians,” said Territory energy minister Dale Wakefield in a statement on Friday.
“We can be a leader in the world transition to renewable hydrogen and this strategy provides the vision and the plan to make it happen.
“The strategy complements our record of delivering more renewables, taking real action on climate change, and the strongest protections for water and our environment the Territory has ever seen.”
The strategy notes that the NT is also well suited to exploit early opportunities for “modest-scale” renewable hydrogen technology adoption, including fertiliser production, long haul heavy vehicle transport, and in stationary electricity production in remote power systems.
“The Territory’s numerous remote isolated communities and mining operations could adopt hydrogen to provide supply reliability in support of intermittent renewable energy sources,” the document says.
“Hybrid solar and hydrogen-powered microgrids in isolated systems could reduce costs and emissions by displacing expensive and high emissions diesel-fired electricity.
“The Territory will be able to draw on extensive experience in remote service delivery to facilitate early trials of hydrogen technologies in isolated systems.”
The strategy says that the starting point to achieving the NT’s hydrogen vision will be to focus on preparing local industry capabilities and logistics and supply chains to facilitate the adoption of renewable hydrogen – a move that would boost the economy, generate jobs and “grow the population.”
The strategy does not appear to make any mention of the Territory’s Indigenous population, but the accompanying government statement does stress that the potential for significant jobs and investment around renewable hydrogen could be in regional areas and provide opportunities for Aboriginal landowners and custodians.