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New developments in the hydrogen industry

We can expect significant legislative reform for the hydrogen industry in the near future. This follows a review of all Australian laws (both Federal and State) in 2019 that found there were approximately 730 pieces of legislation and 119 standards related to the industry and recent developments that are seeking to develop the industry further.

National Energy Resources Australia recently announced the establishment of 13 regional hydrogen clusters with an investment of $1.85 million. These would establish a globally recognised brand for Australian hydrogen technology and help the development, deployment and commercialisation of new hydrogen-focused technologies. It is anticipated that the national clusters will also facilitate uniform legislative reform. This initiative was instigated by the National Hydrogen Strategy released in 2019.

The hubs are designed to increase competitiveness and generate demand for Australian hydrogen both in Australia and overseas. A key regulatory issue that they will need to address, particularly for export markets, is a certification and guarantee of origin scheme. This will be used to identify the potential environmental impacts of each unit of hydrogen by understanding how it was produced.

The Australian Government has already proposed an international certification system to track production technology, direct and indirect carbon emissions. While initial consultations have already been undertaken, further is expected to clarify specific aspects of the proposed scheme.

There have also been developments in Victoria, with the Government announcing its Renewable Hydrogen Industry Development Plan (the Plan) in February. Renewable hydrogen is attractive for both its minimal environmental impact and productive uses as an alternative fuel source. The Plan seeks to establish a new renewable hydrogen sector and lays the foundation for the development of the industry. It does this by laying out how Victoria will:
●    Create clear foundations for the sector;
●    Leverage scale and create economic links; and
●    Set policies and support programs to attract investment in renewable hydrogen projects.
The Plan includes establishing a $10 million hydrogen hub in Melbourne to support education and research and development. The Plan also preempts two major grant programs that will open later in the year. The Expanded Victorian Hydrogen Program will enable renewable hydrogen pilots, trials and demonstrations, while the Hydrogen for Industrial Users Program will support businesses to start using renewable hydrogen.

The key outcomes for the Victorian Government from the Plan include:
●    Creating long-term job growth;
●    Accelerating innovation through research and development;
●    Creating safety standards and regulations;
●    Enable the export of renewable energy;
●    Optimise land use and infrastructure development;
●    Leverage hydrogen to support other energy sectors including electricity and gas;
●    Drive innovation;
●    Build skills, capacity and educational opportunities; and
●    Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

These initiatives will not only support future legislative reform, but also position Australian as a leader in renewable hydrogen, both domestically and in export markets.

 

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