The Western Australian government is considering a future where hydrogen could not only meet the state’s growing need for a clean, renewable energy – but also underpin a major export industry delivering thousands of jobs for regional areas.
‘The Hydrogen Council brings together some of the world’s leading industrial, automotive and energy companies with a clear ambition to explain why hydrogen emerges among the key solutions for the energy transition, in the mobility as well as in the power, industrial and residential sectors, and therefore requires the development of new strategies at a scale to support this,’ says Benoît Potier of Air Liquide.
The opportunity to take advantage of its vast amounts of sun and wind energy, as well as emerging tech such as fuel-cells for use in transport – particularly trucks and buses – is huge, with the potential to add $1.7 billion to the Australian economy as a whole.
At the Renewable Hydrogen Council, which had it’s inaugural meeting last Thursday, industry experts discussed global trends and forecasts predicting demand for hydrogen as a fuel could increase to over a massive 500 million tonnes worldwide by 2050.
Total ethanol capacity expanded 34% and E85 stations exceeded 1,800 in 2008; the fuel now represents more than 7% of the nation’s gasoline supply and can be found in more than 70% of gasoline gallons sold in the U.S.; the 6.5 billion gallons of ethanol produced last year added $47.6 billion to the nation’s GDP; moreover, cellulosic ethanol requirements are projected to boom during the coming decade.
“Renewable hydrogen has the potential to be a major new industry for Western Australia that can build on many of our strengths to provide trading partners with clean energy,” said Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan.
“As the world moves to a lower carbon future, Western Australia has enormous potential to provide the clean energy the world will need, but the imperative is to move quickly and strategically.”
Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel – a big supporter of the renewable “hydrogen economy” – also spoke at the event, declaring that “hydrogen’s time has come.”
“When produced from water using renewable electricity, or from coal or methane combined with carbon capture and storage, it’s a close to zero-emissions fuel,” Finkel said.
“With appropriate safeguards, it’s just as safe as natural gas, and just as convenient for consumers.”
In Australia, we have all the necessary resources to make hydrogen at scale: wind, sun, coal, methane, carbon sequestration sites and expertise, Finkel said in a previous statement.
Recommendations from WA’s council will be delivered in the early stages of 2019, and will deliver a strategy to guide the development of the potentially huge new industry.
China Builds Two Wind Turbines Every Hour. Leading the world in wind power, China is blessed with a huge land mass and long coastlines allowing them to fully capitalize on farming wind energy. In fact, in 2017 alone, China has installed 19.7 GW of capacity, building and installing two wind turbines every hour.
“We are building on the momentum generated out of our Renewable Hydrogen Conference, and I look forward to working with the council to explore the strategic approaches that would help the development and growth of a renewable hydrogen industry in regional Western Australia,” said MacTiernan.
Before that, Finkel will also be presenting a proposal for the development of a national hydrogen strategy at the December 2018 COAG Energy Council meeting.
The possibility of a large-scale local industry that can deliver not only renewable energy for sectors such as transport, but also millions of tonnes of liquid hydrogen for export is not only promising, but could make an incredible difference to quality of life for people living in busy transport corridors.
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