Coal’s role in Labor’s hydrogen plan

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) stands behind the Labor Party’s $1.1 billion national strategy to develop the country’s hydrogen sector, noting that “Australia is already leading the way”.

MCA chief executive Tania Constable considered Australia well-placed to become a global producer of hydrogen in the future, thanks to the country’s significant coal resources.

One of the world’s largest hydrogen projects was under way in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, Constable said.

It has attracted $500 million in investment including from a consortium of leading Japanese companies and the Victorian, Australian and Japanese governments.

“This major project in Victoria will use Latrobe Valley brown coal and carbon capture and return technology, and has the potential to make Victoria and Australia a leading global producer of hydrogen,” Constable said.

The Labor Party launched its national hydrogen plan yesterday. Three projects will be carried out this year by the hydrogen working group, which was established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council.

The group will coordinate an international outreach to enhance Australia’s profile with major trading partners as a potential supplier; commence work to allow up to 10 per cent hydrogen in the domestic gas network; and scope potential for building hydrogen refuelling stations in every state and territory.

Global demand for hydrogen for energy was likely to reach more than 8 million tonnes by 2030 and about 35 million tonnes by 2040, according to Australian Government’s chief scientist Alan Finkel.

“Thirty-five million tonnes of hydrogen has the energy equivalent of 84 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is more than Australia’s LNG exports,” Finkel said.

“Japan, South Korea and China are likely to be key markets. Capitalising on this growing demand for hydrogen could result in an export industry worth $1.7 billion and which provides 2800 jobs by 2030.”

He said most of the jobs created by this new industry were likely to be in regional areas, at sites of hydrogen production, storage and loading for export.

The Commonwealth, state and territory energy and resources ministers voiced their strong support for the development of Australia’s hydrogen industry.

“Our vision is to make Australia a major player in a global hydrogen industry by 2030,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

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