The hydrogen story

Why hydrogen?

A global, clean energy solution

Hydrogen is a clean, adaptable energy and a commodity of the future. The most plentiful element in the universe, it can generate heat and power for everyday commercial, transport and residential use.

Hydrogen is also an energy ‘carrier’, meaning it is very effective for storing the energy used to produce it. It has the exciting potential to enable an energy transition that will result in a substantial reduction of global carbon emissions.

Demand for hydrogen is growing

Global demand for hydrogen is growing at a remarkable rate.

According to the Hydrogen Council, hydrogen could supply up to a fifth of global energy needs and generate a market worth US$2.5 trillion by 2050.

Exciting potential

Only certain countries, like Australia, have the capacity to produce hydrogen at scale.

Australia’s large brown coal reserves, such as those in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, can be used to create a new and thriving hydrogen export industry.

Establishing a safe, cost effective global supply chain for hydrogen will present huge local economic benefits, the capacity to generate a significant number of jobs and a future clean energy source for domestic use in Australia. It is likely to reinvigorate Victoria’s energy industry by generating a competitive edge in a thriving new market.

A strategic project for Australia

With Australia’s economy centred on decades of successful energy development and export, Australia is now on track to claiming a large stake in the emerging hydrogen industry. To do this, Australia must find a cost-effective way to get hydrogen to customers – wherever they are in the world.

Now underway in the Latrobe Valley Victoria, the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project is a world first trial to demonstrate hydrogen production from brown coal and safe and efficient transport of liquefied hydrogen to Japan.

This world first initiative will further strengthen Australia’s enduring trade and investment ties with Japan. It could lay the foundations for a new industry built around hydrogen exports, mobility and hydrogen power generation.

On the home front, the commercialisation phase of the project is likely to generate a significant number of Australian jobs.

Australia has an opportunity to be a significant player in this market given it has one of the world’s largest recoverable brown coal reserves in Victoria. Producing hydrogen from brown coal is currently the most cost effective way of doing so.

The energy sector is examining what the future of energy will look like and there is a growing interest in hydrogen. From a social perspective, exploring an end-to-end hydrogen supply chain in the Latrobe Valley has great potential to bring an entire new industry to this region. This will help local communities transition to a clean energy future.

Japan’s hydrogen future

Japan is committed to a clean energy future and is investing in the technology and global supply chain partnerships to become a ‘hydrogen society’ by 2050.

In 2015, Japan became the first country in the world to introduce stationary hydrogen fuel cells into households. Today more than 300,000 Japanese homes have a fuel cell installed. Hydrogen demand in transport is booming, with more than 3,000 fuel cell vehicles on the roads in 2017.

Key targets of the Japanese Government’s hydrogen energy roadmap, approved by the Japanese Cabinet in December 2017, include:

  • 2030 – Development of CO2-free international hydrogen supply chains, including HESC
  • 2030 – Large-scale hydrogen power generation will be operating, three million homes will have a hydrogen fuel cell and around 800,000 Fuel Cell Vehicles on Japanese roads
  • 2050 – Replace traditional residential energy systems and Fuel Cell Vehicles to be able to replace conventional gasoline mobility.

Capturing carbon

Capturing and storing carbon will be essential for hydrogen production to be scaled up to commercial levels. This will ensure carbon emissions are minimal and make hydrogen production virtually CO2 free.

The Australian and Victorian Governments’ CarbonNet Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project presents a potential solution for CO2 mitigation in the commercial phase.

During the pilot phase, carbon emissions from the project will be very low – about the same as emissions from 28 cars. 

The International Energy Agency projects that Carbon Capture and Storage is vital for reducing emissions across the global energy system.