Acknowledging that a coordinated, national-level approach is urgently needed to create a viable hydrogen industry in Australia, the Australian Hydrogen Council (AHC) has set out a series of recommendations in their new white paper. AHC sees ammonia as playing an important role in an emerging Australian hydrogen industry, particularly as an immediate end-use application for clean hydrogen:
In the short to medium term, it is worth prioritising funding for applications that are more dependent on clean hydrogen for decarbonisation and have a medium economic gap to commerciality. If we can close the economic gap (and technology and knowledge gaps in some cases) for applications like ammonia production and heavy transport, we start to see the new hydrogen domestic industry take shape.
Further, if we can drive large sources of new demand, which could be production of steel, ammonia and other chemicals for local and particularly export markets, as well as blending into natural gas networks, we will start to see scale and reduced costs.Executive Summary, Unlocking Australia’s hydrogen opportunity, Australian Hydrogen Council, September 2021
AHC CEO Fiona Simon on some of the hydrogen white paper’s key details
This week, AEA Australia Chair Andrew Dickson (CWP Global) sat down with Australian Hydrogen Council CEO Fiona Simon to discuss the role of ammonia in Unlocking Australia’s hydrogen opportunity.
(Andrew) Thanks for giving us your time Fiona, we’re excited that ammonia gets a significant mention in the new hydrogen white paper. First, what are your thoughts on the different carriers for hydrogen?
(Fiona) No problem Andrew.
For export markets, clearly ammonia is the front runner as a carrier for hydrogen in the nearer term, and there is work going on to examine and prepare for potential markets for liquefied hydrogen, compressed hydrogen, and other options like metal hydrides.
It’s great that there are multiple possibilities for how we can transport hydrogen, and we welcome the different directions that project proponents are exploring.
(Andrew) What about the key markets/sectors for hydrogen and ammonia as you see them?
(Fiona) I think it’s about where we can argue for lowest regrets policies from governments to get markets going.
For hydrogen, that’s heavy transport and industrial uses – areas of the economy that won’t be able to decarbonise as easily with direct access to electricity and batteries. A key example is for shipping, where bunker fuel can be replaced by hydrogen, ammonia or methanol.
(Andrew) I really like the idea of ammonia as a “low regrets” solution! What about the key domestic opportunities for hydrogen in Australia?
(Fiona) For clean and green hydrogen, it’s obviously in decarbonising how we currently use fossil fuel hydrogen, including to make ammonia for the current markets. If there was low hanging fruit this should be it. Then, to be more adventurous, it’s in trucking and logistics, and even to boost Australian manufacturing in a range of sectors, from food processing to green iron and steel.
(Andrew) What’s the role of certification of a clean product, and is this proceeding quickly enough in Australia?
(Fiona) On every panel and in every group I have participated in since I started in this job (including at AEA’s virtual conference in August), certification is stated to be the most pressing matter for the development of the industry.
Given the value of the newly emerging hydrogen industry is in its green credentials, knowing how the hydrogen is produced is key, particularly for the export markets that Australia wants to lead. The Federal Government is leading work in this space, and we support it. We would definitely like to see this move quickly, but it is also a consensus-building process with international governments, and this can take time.
(Andrew) What are the added benefits of the large, export-oriented green projects planned in Australia?
(Fiona) If Australia gets it right and we become a major player in clean and green fuels and exports, this has a real chance of offsetting the ultimate losses to the country from our inevitable move away from exporting coal and gas. This is a long term play but it’s huge in scale and so we need to see the energy transition as something that’s happening right now; it’s something we need to build and plan for right now.
(Andrew) And finally Fiona, what are your/AHC’s key next steps and recommendations?
(Fiona) We outline the key series next steps to build the hydrogen industry in this latest white paper. We recommend a major planning and funding initiative to get to net zero, and address the no regrets sectors for policy and investment in Australia. We absolutely see the benefits in building our heavy transport and industry capability, and recommend support for clean and green hydrogen for the production of ammonia as a priority.
Australia’s emerging hydrogen industry and ties with Japan
Ammonia Energy and the AHC recently co-hosted a webinar on the key opportunities presented by hydrogen & ammonia to strengthen ties between Australia and Japan. The event touched on drivers & obstacles for the emerging industry, some near-term opportunities for green product and some potential markets, sectors and industries within Australia that would get a huge decarbonisation push from hydrogen & ammonia. Watch the recording below.