Given the funding initiatives announced in the recent Federal Budget, it is an appropriate time to reflect on where Australia is on its journey to building a globally competitive green hydrogen industry and where that sits in the context of the transition to net zero and developments globally.
To provide some context, the 2023-2024 Budget Papers:
- note the need to reduce global emissions and reach net zero to limit the impacts of climate change;
- refer to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which make clear that deep, rapid, and immediate greenhouse gas reductions are needed to limit warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels;
- note that under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to put forward and maintain commitments to address emissions through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and that over 170 countries have lodged updated NDCs, with many having recently strengthened their commitments; and
- note that countries are deploying a range of policies to mitigate against climate change – these include:
- the integration of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System with a new Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism to manage competitiveness implications of stronger mitigation;
- direct investments in renewable energy and clean energy technology becoming more attractive globally including through measures such as the United States’ US$369 billion Inflation Reduction Act, the EU’s €250 billion green industrial package and Canada’s C$80 billion package for clean energy, clean technology manufacturing and hydrogen;
- strengthened regulatory interventions, such as new fuel efficiency standards in the United States and New Zealand, which are also significant elements of international responses; and
- concludes that together these policy shifts are bringing down the costs of technologies that will enable net-zero emissions and increase the penalties associated with inaction.
The net-zero transformation will create new opportunities in emerging green industries that will facilitate a decarbonised global economy. The Budget Papers note that Australia’s future prosperity will depend on how quickly and how well the economy adapts to these changes - delay will increase the cost of transformation and could reduce the competitiveness of some of Australia’s industries, particularly given the scale of direct investment in clean energy technology in other jurisdictions.
Accordingly, transitioning the Australian economy towards cleaner, cheaper forms of energy will be structurally important to its long term competitiveness. Australia is well-positioned to be a key supplier of low emissions technologies across the supply chain due to its endowment of critical minerals and cheap, clean energy - Australia’s abundance of renewable energy resources could see the production of green hydrogen at scale become more commercially viable in Australia than in many other countries. Furthermore Australia’s announced pipeline of hydrogen projects represents close to 40 per cent of all global clean hydrogen project announcements, and underlines Australia’s potential to be among the global leaders in hydrogen.
Before looking at recent Australian initiatives, however, it is informative to look in a little more detail at initiatives in other countries:
United State of America
By way of background, the key impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act (“IR Act”) for the US green hydrogen industry are as follows:
- the IR Act adds section 45V to the US Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a tax credit for the production of “qualified clean hydrogen” produced by a taxpayer at a “qualified clean hydrogen production facility” during a 10-year period beginning on the date such facility was placed in service; and
- the base tax credit amount is set at US$.60 per kilogram of clean hydrogen but increases to $3.00 per kilogram when the hydrogen’s lifecycle carbon intensity measures between zero and 0.45 kilograms of CO equivalent (COe) per kilogram of hydrogen (H2). Importantly, the IR Act includes a “direct pay option” for the same amounts instead of a tax credit. The direct payment for hydrogen and carbon capture facilities will be available for a limited period (the first 5 years of production). Alternatively, the IR Act also includes an option for taxpayers to monetize the credits by transferring them to another taxpayer.
The potential to access a US$3 tax credit or direct payment for each kilogram of low-carbon hydrogen is revolutionary for the emerging green hydrogen industry in the US. Some sources claim that it will make green hydrogen structurally cheaper than grey hydrogen and might reduce the cost of green hydrogen production to as low as US$0.73 per kilograms in the US Northwest. On more conservative estimates it will likely halve the cost of production of green hydrogen in many places in the US. In either case, it immediately makes green hydrogen a competitive source of energy compared to its fossil fuel alternatives. The bottom line is that when combined with the input tax credits for renewable power production and energy storage infrastructure, the entire upstream value chain for green hydrogen production infrastructure, from well (i.e., electron generation) to gate (i.e., the outlet of storage facilities), is now subsidized by the US government. This positions the US as among the most competitive places in the world to develop green hydrogen projects across the value chain.
On September 14, 2022, the European Parliament (the Parliament) adopted its position on revised amendments to the Renewable Energy Directive (Recast) 2018 (RED II) proposing requirements for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) production (including green hydrogen and green ammonia, amongst other fuels) that are more lenient than those proposed by the European Commission in its draft Delegated Act on renewable energy supply (published in May 2022). The Parliament’s text proposed amendments to the draft amendments to RED II proposed by the European Commission (the “Commission”) in July 2021 as part of the Fit for 55 package.
The Parliament’s text is just one step in the legislative process that remains ongoing to clarify the European requirements for green hydrogen and green ammonia production (both in Europe and in countries seeking to export to Europe). However, it is clear from this step that the trajectory in Europe is towards greater regulatory flexibility, in part perhaps a result of global competition for investment in the sector spurred on by the recent announcements of generous tax incentives for U.S. green hydrogen producers under the IRA. If the Parliament’s proposals were to be adopted, thereby establishing the requirements for RFNBO production into primary legislation rather than the Commission passing the Delegated Act on RES supply, this would improve legal certainty for investors in the green hydrogen sector.
Not only are the Parliament’s proposals simpler and less stringent than those proposed by the Commission, being adopted as primary legislation would remove the risk for investors that the Delegated Act on RES supply might be challenged as being outside the Commission’s powers to pass delegated legislation by proponents of more environmentally strict production requirements for RFNBOs (as has been foreshadowed by a number of the public responses to the Commission’s consultation on the draft Delegated Acts in May 2022). Both of these factors would be a significant boost for the European hydrogen sector.
In its 2022 Fall Economic Statement, the Canadian government announced a refundable investment tax credit for investments made in clean hydrogen production based on the lifecycle carbon intensity of hydrogen. This investment was intended to encourage the use of clean energy to reduce pollution. In its federal Budget 2023, the Canadian Government announced details of the Clean Hydrogen Investment Tax Credit with the following key design features (i) the levels of support will vary between 15% and 40% of eligible project costs, with the projects that produce the cleanest hydrogen receiving the highest levels of support; (ii) the Clean Hydrogen Investment Tax Credit will also extend a 15% tax credit to equipment needed to convert hydrogen into ammonia, in order to transport the hydrogen. The tax credit will only be available to the extent the ammonia production is associated with the production of clean hydrogen. Specified labour requirements need to be met to receive the maximum tax credit rates - if labour requirements are not met, credit rates will be reduced by 10 percentage points.
Other measures include a new Clean Electricity Tax Investment Credit - a 15% refundable tax credit for eligible investments in non-emitting electricity generation systems: wind, concentrated solar, solar photovoltaic, hydro (including large-scale), wave, tidal, nuclear (including large-scale and small modular reactors, abated natural gas-fired electricity generation (which would be subject to an emissions intensity threshold compatible with a net-zero grid by 2035), stationary electricity storage systems that do not use fossil fuels in operation, such as batteries, pumped hydroelectric storage, and compressed air storage; and equipment for the transmission of electricity between provinces and territories
New Australian initiatives - Federal Budget 2023-2024
The recent Federal Budget provides for further funding initiatives to assist the development of Australia’s green hydrogen industry.
These measures are seen as an initial response to the Biden Administration’s $US369 billion Inflation Reduction Act in the United State of America (“US”).
The Australian Government has announced that it will provide A$2.0 billion to accelerate development of Australia’s hydrogen industry, catalyse clean energy industries, and help Australia connect to new global hydrogen supply chains. Funding includes:
- A$2.0 billion for the establishment of a new Hydrogen Headstart program, which will provide revenue support for investment in renewable hydrogen production through competitive production contracts, including funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to support the development and operation of the program;
- A$5.6 million in 2023-24 to analyse the implications for Australia of intensifying global competition for clean energy industry, and to identify actions before the end of 2023 to further catalyse clean energy industries, ensure Australian manufacturing competitiveness and attract capital investment; and
- A$2.0 million over two years from 2024–25 to establish a fund to support First Nations communities to engage with hydrogen project proponents and planning processes.
The Australia Government also announced that it would provide A$38.2 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and A$6.5 million per year ongoing) to establish a Guarantee of Origin Certificate scheme to track and verify emissions associated with hydrogen and other low emissions’ products and provide an enduring mechanism to certify renewable electricity.
As noted above, the Hydrogen Headstart program will provide revenue support for investment in renewable hydrogen production through competitive production contracts to help attract foreign and domestic investment to Australia’s hydrogen industry. The Treasurer’s statement notes that such contracts will help bridge the commercial gap for early projects and put Australia on course for up to a gigawatt of electrolyser capacity by 2030 through 2 to 3 flagship projects.
It is unclear how such support will be structured and in particular whether government itself would be an offtaker or (more likely) whether government would subsidise a portion of the sales revenue akin to a “contract for difference” or bear a proportion of the costs of production to allow green hydrogen to be sold at a globally competitive price. According to media reports, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen has indicated that the intention is for ARENA to solicit bids for production credits paid to 2 or 3 major future hydrogen producers with up to 1 GW of electrolyser capacity in total by 2030 – the programme will only kick in once producers begin generating hydrogen so that investment risk remains with the proponents and not government. However, precise details of the form, level and duration of the mechanism have not been released and will not be available until later this year.
The establishment of a Guarantee of Origin Certificate scheme is an important step in ensuring that green hydrogen or green hydrogen products can be verified as having been derived from renewable energy sources. The objective here is to underpin long-term contractual arrangements between producers and consumers, supporting international trade and the creation of domestic markets. Europe is also looking at establishing such standards and they will become critical for offtakers who need to satisfy “green” standards in their home countries.
In recognition of the intensifying competitiveness of the international clean energy investment landscape, the Australian Government is also providing A$5.6 million for an analysis to be undertaken of the new implications for Australia, and to identify potential actions to catalyse growth in clean energy industries, to ensure the competitiveness of Australian manufacturing and attract capital investment.
Other related Budget initiatives which will also touch on the green hydrogen sector include:
- Reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism commencing on 1 July 2023 with the aim of driving down industrial emissions, and assisting Australia to reach its emissions reduction targets. These reforms are intended to provide greater certainty for businesses and ensure industry remains competitive in a decarbonising global economy. The Government will review its effectiveness through a review into its policy settings in 2026–27.
- The new Powering the Regions Fund will assist regional industries to realise the opportunities of the net zero transformation through the establishment of 3 key streams as follows (with funding guidelines still to be released):
- the A$600.0 million Safeguard Transformation Stream is allocated for trade-exposed Safeguard facilities to assist these facilities invest in low emissions technology to reduce their on-site emissions and boost their global competitiveness;
- the A$400.0 million Industrial Transformation Stream for existing industrial facilities will support the growth of new clean energy industries in regional areas, decarbonising existing industrial activities and transforming traditional strengths, such as green manufacturing; and
- the A$400.0 million Critical Inputs to Clean Energy Industries Stream will support sovereign manufacturing capability of critical inputs to the energy transformation, such as steel, cement, lime, and aluminium. This will support these industries to continue manufacturing while reducing their emissions as well as ensuring access to critical inputs for the transformation.
- The Rewiring the Nation initiative which will provide A$20.0 billion in concessional debt and equity financing to invest in transmission projects. Investment will occur in priority grid-related projects through the Clean Energy Financial Corporation (CEFC) with the aim of fast-tracking the decarbonisation of the electricity sector and taking advantage of Australia’s renewable energy resources (which will power the next stage of the energy transition). Investments in the electricity grid are a critical part of the economy’s net zero transition as they allow delivery of low-cost renewable energy to consumers.
Following the Federal Budget, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and US President Joe Biden signed the Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact (Compact) at the sidelines of the annual Group of Seven (G7) Summit in Japan. The Compact is a landmark joint formal statement of strategic intent to establish climate, clean energy, and a shared energy industrial base as a third pillar of the Australia-US Alliance (alongside defence and economic cooperation). It is a win for Australia and for Australian companies seeking to benefit from the pathway towards global decarbonisation (see our previous article Australia-US Joint Leaders’ Statement – A Compact Solution to the Clean Energy Transition?).
Most recently, in May this year, the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the signing of a cooperation agreement with India to assess green hydrogen opportunities between the two countries. Australia and India will set up a green hydrogen taskforce to explore opportunities for cooperation, according to a statement issued by Australian Prime Minister. The terms of reference of the taskforce were signed on 24 May – the taskforce will comprise experts in renewable hydrogen from both countries and report to the Australian-Indian Ministerial Energy Dialogue.
Snapshot of key State initiatives
Whilst the Australian Government initiatives are important in underpinning the development of the green hydrogen industry, it is the states that will provide the regulatory settings, make available large tracts of land with associated land use policies and fund or contribute to the funding of key infrastructure to support private sector green hydrogen projects.
The most significant green hydrogen developments are likely to occur in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia with more limited activity in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. We examine and provide an update below on the approach being adopted by state governments in each of these key jurisdictions.
Renewable hydrogen law and Government policy in WA is rapidly evolving
The Western Australian (WA) Government’s 2030 goals for a green hydrogen industry in that state are well known – they are:
- WA's market share in global hydrogen exports is similar to its share in LNG today.
- WA's gas pipelines and networks contain up to 10% renewable hydrogen blend.
- Renewable hydrogen is used in mining haulage vehicles.
- Renewable hydrogen is a large fuel source for transportation in regional WA.
The WA Government is now well advanced in evolving WA’s renewable hydrogen law and policy and the WA investment environment more broadly to facilitate the development of large-scale renewable hydrogen projects. This has included:
- extensive reforms across land tenure, environmental and Aboriginal cultural heritage laws as well as proposed reforms to hydrogen pipeline and carbon capture laws and the setting of renewable hydrogen targets in WA;
- the WA Government establishing a new Green Energy Assessment Unit responsible for streamlined assessment pathways and a new Green Energy Major Projects Group to help steer individual projects through government processes; and
- the WA Government positioning itself to make significant investments in relation to upgrades of port and other common user infrastructure (such as power lines and hydrogen transportation pipelines) in Port Hedland and Karratha in anticipation of the requirement of project developers.
Renewable hydrogen hubs
A centrepiece of the WA Government’s strategy to drive industry development and cater for the export market is its A$117.5 million commitment for the establishment of renewable hydrogen hubs in the Pilbara and Mid-West regions of Western Australia and support for the hydrogen hub in Kwinana.
In the Pilbara, the WA Government has allocated land to four projects across the Maitland Strategic Industrial Area (SIA) which is located in close proximity to the town of Karratha and the existing port at Dampier. According to WA Government announcements, the projects approved for land allocation in the Maitland SIA will produce hydrogen and ammonia and generate renewable power and will have a focus on the decarbonisation of existing industry located on the Burrup Peninsula. Proponents allocated land in the Maitland SIA include Yara International, Perdaman Chemicals and Fertilisers, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) and Hexagon.
The McGowan Government has also approved allocation of land for seven projects across the Boodarie and Ashburton North SIAs valued at A$70 billion. Both Boodarie and Ashburton North SIAs are set to become globally competitive, multi-product green industrial precincts. The Ashburton SIA land allocations focus on the production of ammonia and methanol and the five projects that have been allocated land in the Boodarie SIA will support the production of green iron ore, ammonia, hydrogen, and lithium sulphate monohydrate.
WA is a step closer to having a new port at Oakajee on the Mid-West coast after announcing in October 2022 that it had awarded land to BP and Fortescue FFI (among other proponents) for green hydrogen projects. Each company has been granted 220 hectares of land for green hydrogen and green ammonia processing alongside the proposed port. According to the WA Government, FFI is considering using its land grant for a green ammonia plant but had also talked about a green iron project in the state's Mid-West region. BP has set its sights on an export-scale green hydrogen and ammonia production facility based on the positive findings of its feasibility study into the potential around Oakajee. The WA Government has made smaller land allocations to Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, Green LOHC, Kinara Power and Blue Diamond Australia for hydrogen projects in an industrial area at Oakajee. The state will also work with the Port of Rotterdam and German government on a study of the port infrastructure required at Oakajee for the export of hydrogen products. A WA Government spokesperson has commented that the land allocation paved the way for the government to look at the infrastructure needs of the hydrogen players at Oakajee.
However, these land allocations are but one of the initial stage steps to securing the necessary rights to the land upon which these projects will be developed. Key remaining steps in securing the land required for these projects will include negotiations with the State for the grant of the tenure as well entry into agreements with the relevant Traditional Owners that are recognised as custodians of the land on which the projects will be developed.
Building relationships and the approvals process
Successful execution of a project development strategy, whether in the Pilbara or other regions, will requires early and extensive government and stakeholder engagement supported by strong relationships. Obtaining broad support for driving forward developer’s goals at all levels within government, business and the local community will be critical.
Relationships with key government agencies and stakeholders in Perth and the relevant region itself (e.g. Pilbara) will also be very important - this includes the Renewable Hydrogen Unit within the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation and the Hydrogen and Alternate Energy Safety team within the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety in Perth. In the Pilbara, this includes the Pilbara Development Commission and the Regional Development Authority as well as the Pilbara Port Authority and Development WA.
The development of any hydrogen project in WA will be subject to obtaining a number of key approvals from the WA Government. In Western Australia, statutory timeframes do not always apply to the grant of these approvals meaning that a developer will need to work closely with government and its other local advisors to secure the required approvals in accordance with the project development timelines. There will be opportunities in the approvals pathway for a developer to utilise government and stakeholder networks and relationships in seeking to expedite or fast track the approvals processes.
Native title and aboriginal heritage
57% of Australia’s land mass is part of the Indigenous Estates - in Western Australia, up to 85% of its land mass is subject to registered or determined native title. In the Pilbara alone, there are 15 native title claims. There has been a change of conversation in relation to empowerment of Traditional Owners and the creation of true partnerships in recognition of fundamental rights to self-determination. Any developer will need to understand the opportunities and challenges posed by WA native title and Aboriginal heritage laws and policy issues. These are complex and dynamic and subject to ongoing, and increasing, scrutiny at a political, community and industry participant level.
By way of example, work is currently underway by WA industry to develop transformational arrangements with Traditional Owners as Australian corporate culture begins to re-visualise best practice and as the ambit of its social licence to operate is broadened significantly. Building a foundation of trusted relationships with Traditional Owners as well as a detailed understanding of applying in practice the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ESG principles concerning First Nations people is critical.
On 1 July 2023, long-proposed reforms to Aboriginal cultural heritage laws are scheduled to commence under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 (WA)(ACHA). The ACHA will provide a modern framework for the recognition, protection, conservation and preservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage while recognising the fundamental importance of Aboriginal cultural heritage to Aboriginal people. Although material details remain to be announced, we recommend that project proponents commence preparation for the ACHA if they have not already done so. In particular, internal reviews should be undertaken to ensure that agreements and standard operating procedures are fit for purpose - if they are not, early engagement should occur with advisers, consultants or other persons who have detailed knowledge of ACHA requirements.
WA ”diversification lease” land reform
Pastoral estate covers roughly 36% (or 90 million hectares) of the state and coincides with some of the state’s best wind and solar resources. Historically, land has been locked up for limited “pastoral purposes” (i.e., commercial grazing and related purposes) with limited diversification allowed. “Diversification leases” are the proposed new form of non‑exclusive leasehold tenure which are intended to support large scale clean energy projects and the expansion of carbon farming and other broad-scale uses in WA. The Land and Public Works Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 which will introduce the diversification lease and related reforms was passed by the WA Parliament in March this year and is now awaiting proclamation into law.
The South Australian (SA) Government is pressing ahead with its plan to building a world leading green hydrogen power station, electrolyser and storage facility near Whyalla, in the state’s Upper Spencer Gulf. The A$593 million green hydrogen project co-located on land part of the Whyalla Steelworks will be operational by 2025. The plant will be significantly bigger than the largest electrolyser now operating in Australia – a 1.25MW hydrogen plant in Adelaide's Tonsley Park. The project includes 250MWe of electrolysers, 200MW of power generation and hydrogen storage facilities.
To support the hydrogen project, Port Bonython, located 16 km from the city of Whyalla in the Upper Spencer Gulf, is likely to become South Australia's first large-scale export terminal for green and blue hydrogen. Port Bonython has an existing deep-water liquid hydrocarbon export terminal with a 2.4km long jetty, over 2,000 hectares of developable land and world-class wind and solar resources and gas reserves located nearby. In 2021 , the government called for Expressions of Interest from companies and investors to develop the land around Port Bonython to create a multi-user export precinct. Seven projects are shortlisted, and the South Australian government is currently negotiating with the shortlisted companies including FFI, Origin Energy, H2U, Neoen in partnership with Chiyoda and Mitsubishi Australia, Neoen in partnership with ENEOS Australia, AMP Energy and Santos.
Both the state and federal government are committing A$100 million to developing common user infrastructure, such as upgrades to the port, common user last mile pipelines, storage and access roads. The proposed projects at Port Bonython represent a total investment of about A$13 billion and could generate up to 1.5 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2030.
The SA Government has also earmarked Cape Hardy as a credible, future green hydrogen production and export hub. Cape Hardy is located on the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula, approximately 7km south of Port Neill, and comprises 1200Ha of undeveloped coastal land, wholly-owned by Iron Road Ltd. In 2022, Iron Road concluded its market sounding process gauging commercial interest in the longer-term development of Cape Hardy as a green hydrogen hub and industrial precinct. A shortlist of 10 domestic and international green hydrogen proponents asked to be involved in the company’s formal Expression of Interest, with the successful proponent Amp Energy executing a strategic framework agreement with Iron Road. In addition to the strategic physical attributes of Cape Hardy, Iron Road has development approval for the port site as a high-grade iron concentrate and multi-commodity export facility. The project may ultimately provide offtake for hydrogen and value-adding opportunities such as green pellet and/or green steel production.
The SA Department for Energy and Mining is also proposing to introduce a Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act to ensure that its pipeline of projects is socially and environmentally sustainable and responsibly addresses native title rights and Aboriginal interests. The Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act once introduced will seek to introduce a ‘one window to government’ licencing and regulatory system for the lifecycle of large-scale hydrogen and renewable energy projects in South Australia. Public comment is currently being sought on a range of matters that will shape the direction of that legislation.
Queensland has a unique competitive advantage in the production of renewable hydrogen due to its close proximity to Asia, established infrastructure, manufacturing capabilities and renewable energy potential. That state’s hydrogen strategy has 5 focus areas - supporting innovation; facilitating private sector investment; ensuring an effective policy framework; building community awareness and confidence and facilitating skills development for a new technology.
Most recently, the Queensland Government commissioned a report with a view to quantifying the value of the natural and publicly-owned assets in the state to support development of the hydrogen industry in that state. The report entitled “Enabling Queensland’s hydrogen and production opportunities” was published in October 2022 (Report). It provides a strategic insight for Queensland hydrogen production and export facilities with in-depth assessments intended to inform investors so as to assist them as they plan, develop and secure capital, partners, and off-take for their projects.
Under the guidance of the Queensland Hydrogen Taskforce, the report was commissioned to identify and evaluate each of Queensland’s key export regions - it also examines existing infrastructure and its potential role in local supply chains. The Report notes that many of Queensland’s ports can be expanded or adapted to accommodate hydrogen export. As an example, work is already in progress in Townsville under the $A1.6 billion Port Expansion Project, with the first phase — a A$232 million Channel Upgrade Project — delivering a wider shipping channel that will allow vessels up to 300 metres in length to access the port. In Gladstone, the port has been working with a number of proponents to facilitate hydrogen development in the region. Gladstone Port has established a future renewables precinct to facilitate this development which is located adjacent to the 27,000 hectare Gladstone State Development Area. The port has already moved more than one million cubic metres of material through a reclamation program to form new port land areas at the Renewables Hub Precinct.
The Report identifies the following key strategic cities, towns and ports as areas for future development of the hydrogen industry in the State – Townsville; Abbot Point; Mackay/Hay Point; Gladstone; Weipa; Karumba; Cape Flattery, Cairns; Lucinda; Mourilyan; Rockhampton; Brisbane; and Bundaberg.
In terms of next steps, the Report highlights the following initiatives by the Queensland Government:
- The establishment of the Queensland Hydrogen Taskforce to focus on delivering Queensland as a globally attractive destination for hydrogen investment. The government is also working closely with hubs/clusters and councils in progressing hydrogen related developments. Up to A$5 million will be invested to rollout a hydrogen awareness program over 3 years to inform communities about the uses and benefits of hydrogen.
- A review by the Queensland Government of regulatory settings with the aim of ensuring state based legislation is fit for purpose – the Government has stated that it will introduce necessary changes to the Queensland Parliament as part of a Hydrogen Bill. Resources Safety and Health Queensland is also developing a Hydrogen Safety Code of Practice and risk based safety regulation to support a sustainable and safe Queensland hydrogen industry.
- The launch of the Hydrogen Industry Workforce Development Roadmap 2022-2032 which is aimed at building a pipeline of skilled, hydrogen ready workers. This roadmap is the first dedicated workforce development plan for the industry in Australia and is intended to map out a path to building a strong and adaptable workforce for the developing hydrogen industry.
- Working with proponents on the development of a supply chain (such as the Gladstone electrolyser manufacturing facility under development by FFI) and other capabilities such as renewable energy components, hydrogen buses and refuelling facilities. The Queensland Advanced Manufacturing 10-Year roadmap and Action Plan released in 2018 identified hydrogen and renewable energy as future manufacturing opportunities.
- Undertaking a current assessment of the feasibility of desalinated water for use in hydrogen production in Queensland.
- Ensuring that long-term development of REZ, which is complex and needs to support existing industries and emerging opportunities like the hydrogen economy, is undertaken in a coordinated manner – this will be critical in supporting a reliable, secure and affordable energy supply to ensure Queensland reaches its target of 50% renewable energy by 2030. The Queensland Government is working with Powerlink and other state owned utilities, to identify strategic investments aligned to areas of high investor interest.
- A commitment of up to A$15 million to supercharge, coordinate and further plan for hydrogen hubs in key locations across the state. This work will cover the full value chain, considering key inputs of water and energy, pipelines, storage facilities, and port planning. This will also include working with stakeholders in existing and new potential hydrogen hub locations to conduct integrated and detailed planning to ensure the state is well-positioned to become a renewable hydrogen powerhouse.
- Establishment of the Hydrogen Industry Development Fund to drive investment and accelerate development of hydrogen projects in Queensland. Funding has been allocated to projects featuring a variety of domestic renewable hydrogen applications, such as transport, gas-blending, off-grid storage and wastewater treatment.
- Establishment of the A$4.5 billion Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund which will allow energy government-owned corporations to increase ownership of commercial renewable energy and hydrogen projects, as well as supporting infrastructure, including in partnership with the private sector. The government has also released Queensland’s Zero Emission Vehicle Strategy 2022-2032 and the first Zero Emission Vehicle Action Plan 2022-2024.
It will be interesting to see how the Hydrogen Headstart initiative is implemented in practice and who ultimately benefits from that program. The establishment of a Guarantee of Origin Certificate scheme is certainly welcomed and will be critical to underpinning the development of the green hydrogen industry in Australia. These reforms represent the first steps taken by the Australia Government to ensure the global competitiveness of the Australian hydrogen industry in response to the major funding measures in the United States, the EU and Canada.
State governments are being proactive in positioning themselves to participate in the hydrogen industry with Western Australia and Queensland being particularly well positioned because of the availability of large tracts of land, significant wind and solar resources and access to quality port infrastructure (with more to come).
A number of major Australian and foreign companies are looking to establish hydrogen production facilities here and associated green manufacturing facilities for products such as green steel. Close links and strategic partnerships are being formed with governments in South Korea, Japan and Germany in particular with associated international supply chain studies being progressed at a governmental and industry level.
The remaining challenges in project delivery will be the availability and costs of suitable skilled labour to work in the hydrogen industry as it develops, access to suitable land, agreements with Traditional Owners and supply chain issues for key components such as electrolysers, wind turbines and solar panels.