Hydrogen - or carriers like ammonia - are slated as a potential way for Australia to export renewable energy, with electrical energy readily converted into hydrogen via electrolysis that separates hydrogen from oxygen in water, and when produced using renewable electricity, and is entirely emissions free.
ARENA says the new funding will be used to investigate funding for projects that involve commercial scale deployments of electrolysers, particularly over 10 MW in scale, to drive the commercialisation of key component technologies and facilitate cost reductions for producing renewable hydrogen.
At present, hydrogen is used in the industrial and chemical sectors and is derived primarily from natural gas, but ARENA says that in the future, hydrogen will be used in a range of applications from industrial applications to household appliances, remote power, transport, for greening or storing energy in existing gas network - and represents a “significant long term export opportunity”.
“The hydrogen sector is still in its infancy, and while key technologies like electrolysers are available, there are few large scale systems deployed and they are still expensive,” says Miller.
“There is a need to develop local skills, supply chains and delivery capabilities of large scale renewable hydrogen projects. ARENA’s support can help to establish this new industry as well as progressing research and development to unlock greater cost reductions and efficiency improvements. Knowledge shared from the projects funded under this round will be vital for the industry.”
Miller noted that ARENA recently updated its investment priorities with one of the three priorities focusing on accelerating hydrogen, highlighting the importance it will play in reducing emissions and providing a new industry for the Australian economy.
“But if we want to build a hydrogen industry, we need to get cracking -- which is why ARENA is looking at a competitive funding round that will drive technological innovations and help bridge the commerciality gap,” Miller concluded.
ARENA says it has already committed more than $44 million towards hydrogen development including early stage research and development and pilot projects, and its previous funding in renewable hydrogen includes a $20 million funding round for early stage R&D.
ARENA will commence a stakeholder consultation process to “help inform the parameters” of a large-scale funding round with formal applications expected to open in March 2020.