Why hydrogen energy is at the tipping point and why Australia is primed to lead

The most common substance in the universe is supported by mature technologies – Australia can be a power player in the new hydrogen ecosystem.

As the world focuses on reducing CO2 emissions and meeting climate goals, hydrogen holds tremendous potential to decarbonise industrial processes, to improve the reliability and resilience of energy systems and to enable new, sustainable business models for a low-carbon future world.

While it’s true that H2 is the simplest atom, it’s a complex technical challenge to create a well-coordinated ecosystem to support a hydrogen economy.  “There is a lot of work to do to get there, but the time is right to invest in the scaling up of hydrogen energy technologies to become a key part of the global more sustainable economy and clean energy system,” says Ankit Parikh, Industry Lead Chemicals and Refining for ABB Australia.

Clear, robust government policies and strategies are essential to develop the hydrogen economy. Australian governments – both federal and state – are actively supporting hydrogen investment.

Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, released in November 2019, includes a $370 million funding package from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which will commit $300 million of concessional finance through a new Advancing Hydrogen Fund, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which will provide $70 million to kick-start electrolyser projects for Green Hydrogen Production.

In September this year, the Federal government also announced $1.9 billion investment in new energy technologies, which will be vital in accelerating the development of hydrogen as a critical part of Australia’s energy mix.

From Concept to Reality
As the sector develops, hydrogen production and consumption each rely on the other to spur investment. Now that governments around the world – including Australia and New-Zealand – have established strategies for hydrogen investment, ABB sees a wealth of opportunities for first movers.

“ABB is providing the electrification and instrumentation solutions for a world first Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain [HESC] project between Australia and Japan,” says Parikh.

The HESC pilot project is one of the world’s first efforts to liquefy and transport mass quantities of hydrogen across open waters. The Hydrogen Liquefaction and Loading Terminal at the Port of Hastings in Victoria is currently under construction, with ABB supplying and integrating that key equipment. The first shipment of liquefied hydrogen is scheduled to ship in 2021 and the project has the potential to create US $1.4 billion in exports nationally, positioning Australia as a global leader in hydrogen production.

“Throughout ABB, we are collaborating with customers and partners to build the new ecosystem for hydrogen – from a new production facility in France, the HESC liquefying and transportation project between Australia and Japan, and novel end-uses such as fuel cells to power marine vessels,” says Dr Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB’s Industrial Automation business “We are proud to partner with our customers in their efforts to help the world operate and grow more sustainably.”

“With more than 50 years in the energy sector and 110,000 employees in more than 100 countries, ABB has expertise and innovative technology across the hydrogen value chain: production, transportation, storage and end use,” says Parikh. This includes grid and factory electrical and automation infrastructure, rectifiers, energy optimisation models, BESS (Battery energy Storage System), asset management (including condition monitoring and predictive maintenance), safety and security management and gas analyzers and various instrumentation.

Effective partnerships will be key to successes and broad capability across power systems and process control will help to simplify hydrogen projects. A holistic approach will be vital as the well-established hydrogen industry undergoes a mid-life metamorphosis to become the cornerstone of a low-carbon sustainable economy.

“As one of the world’s largest technology suppliers to energy industries, ABB has had a clear view of the growing interest in hydrogen,” says Brandon Spencer, President, ABB Energy Industries division. “Hydrogen is capturing the imagination of innovators around the world for its potential to help us reach our climate goals, improve the reliability and resiliency of energy systems and to enable new business models that are sustainable in a low-carbon future.”

Preparing for our energy future – strengthening the hydrogen value chain

ABB’s white paper, ‘Preparing for our energy future – strengthening the hydrogen value chain’ discusses the opportunities for the hydrogen sector and the policy settings and technologies that can overcome the challenges. Download the white paper for free here.

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About the author

Joanne Woo

Storyteller & head of communications for ABB Australia. From large global conglomerates to fast growing start-ups, Joanne Woo has led diverse marketing and communications teams across energy, mining, aviation, transportation, healthcare and technology sectors. Joanne is also a mentor for the Superstars of STEM program which aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM.
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