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Labor commits to $1 billion hydrogen plan
Emerging hydrogen industry the focus of Labor’s latest federal election promise
22 Jan 2019
THE federal opposition has given the emerging hydrogen industry a big boost in Australia, today committing to a $1 billion plan that could create the refuelling infrastructure needed for fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to be considered a genuine zero-emissions alternative.
Approaching this year’s federal election, the Labor party announced its intention for the hydrogen industry to be powered by renewable energy, which is at odds with the Liberal government’s push for new high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal power plants.
Under a Bill Shorten-led federal government, $1 billion would be allocated from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to support renewable hydrogen development, forming part of the Labor party’s plan to double the CEFC’s capital by $10 billion.
Such a move would complement the similar work currently being done by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), with up to $90 million of its unallocated funding to be used for research and development, demonstrations and commercial deployment.
Significantly, the policy would also draw a further $10 million from ARENA’s unallocated funding to develop much-needed hydrogen refuelling infrastructure that has so far prevented automotive brands from offering private sales of their FCEVs.
Meanwhile, $3 million would be allocated to the establishment of a National Hydrogen Innovation Hub in Gladstone, Queensland, which is a regional coal hub and port town that is at the forefront of the clean-energy push.
Due to Australia’s unrivalled ability to harness solar and wind energy, hydrogen is thought to be its biggest export opportunity, with Japan and Korea already earmarked by the Victorian government as potential customers.
The Hydrogen Mobility Council, which was formed in February last year and counts Toyota Australia and Hyundai Motor Company Australia among its members, welcomed the Labor party’s announcement, with its chief executive officer, Claire Johnson, adding that it would help the hydrogen industry gain further momentum.
“Hydrogen is being recognised globally as central to the world’s energy transition and Australia could play a significant role in its development,” she said.
“With our natural advantages in renewable energy, Australia can be a hydrogen powerhouse producing hydrogen for our own and international economies to power zero-emissions vehicles and other applications.
“With both sides of federal politics throwing their support behind hydrogen, combined with various commitments at the state and territory government level, the support needed to position Australia as a lead in this space is being realised.
“Industry is excited about the opportunity hydrogen presents for Australia and looks forward to working with all stakeholders to support the economy-wide application of clean hydrogen.”
As reported, the Hydrogen Mobility Council is working with the federal government-led Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council on the National Hydrogen Strategy that is also seeking to implement policies which will develop the hydrogen industry.
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