Monday, 25 November 2019 11:02

ARENA raising $70 million to fast track ‘renewable’ hydrogen development Featured

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ARENA raising $70 million to fast track ‘renewable’ hydrogen development Image stuart miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced a funding round of up to $70 million to help fast track the development of renewable hydrogen in Australia.

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”.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller says while Australia is in a good position to become a major exporter of renewable hydrogen, the funding will help to kickstart a domestic hydrogen industry, by driving down the cost of producing renewable hydrogen at scale.

“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.

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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