The Victorian Labor government has signed up to a certification scheme that prevents hydrogen made using fossil fuels from claiming it is a zero carbon energy, in a move that puts it at odds with the federal government.
The Zero Carbon Certification Scheme, an initiative of the Smart Energy Council and Hydrogen Australia, is designed to provide guarantees that hydrogen, ammonia and metals that claim to be renewably manufactured are indeed carbon free.
Only “green hydrogen”, made by splitting water molecules using electrolysis powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, will qualify for certification. “Blue hydrogen”, which extracts hydrogen from fossil fuels such as coal or gas and supposedly captures and stores the CO2 emissions, will not be eligible because CCS technology is unable to capture all the emissions.
The Morrison government has ramped up its support for blue hydrogen in recent weeks, using the term “clean hydrogen” in official statements to cover both green and blue hydrogen, but talking up blue rather than green hydrogen in interviews.
The Victorian government is following the ACT government in signing up to the certification scheme, once again putting state government at odds with the national government on climate and energy policy.
“This is exactly what is needed to accelerate renewable hydrogen in Australia,” Victorian minister for energy, environment and climate change Lily D’Ambrosio said of the new certification scheme.
“Once again state governments and businesses are having to fill the climate policy vacuum left by the federal government.”
However, the Victorian government’s decision to back the move means it will no longer be able to claim existing projects, such as the one it is backing in the Latrobe Valley to make hydrogen with brown coal, are renewable.
“The Victorian Government is leading the nation in climate action and support for renewables and now it’s become a leader in renewable hydrogen,” said John Grimes, chief executive of the Smart Energy Council.
“The Zero Carbon Certification Scheme is a certificate of origin scheme for renewable hydrogen, renewable ammonia and renewable metals. It’s an absolutely critical step in building the jobs and industries of the future,” said Mr Grimes.
Other signatories the scheme include the Ammonia Energy Association, COP26 High Level Champions for Climate Action, CWP Global, Energy Web, Power Ledger, Star Scientific, Evoenergy and the ACT Renewables Hub.
James Fernyhough is a reporter at RenewEconomy. He has worked at The Australian Financial Review and the Financial Times, and is interested in all things related to climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.