Renewable Energy: Hydrogen Industry

07 Sep 2020 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (18:11): The Morrison government is investing in the energy opportunities presented by hydrogen. In November last year our government released a landmark strategy that will guide the development of our nation's growing hydrogen industry. The National Hydrogen Strategy was developed in consultation with the states and territories. It lays out a path to solving the problems of today and creating the jobs of tomorrow by investing in new technologies. Consistent with our focus on new technologies to reduce emissions and lower energy costs, hydrogen will become a key pillar in our ongoing work to secure better environmental outcomes without sending the nation broke.

Our approach could not be more different to that of those opposite, whose only solutions are to impose billions of dollars of taxes on Australian businesses and our communities. This makes absolutely no sense. By comparison, our plan for the hydrogen industry makes a lot of sense. It makes sense for Australia. We have abundant energy resources, extensive carbon storage sites, and a strong track record of and capability for energy exports. Hydrogen has substantial untapped potential. We're working to release that potential through the CEFC's new 300 million Advancing Hydrogen Fund and ARENA's $70 million funding round for electrolyser projects. The latter fund in particular has received strong interest, with over 36 expressions of interest submitted, showing that industry is ready and able to co-invest to help grow our hydrogen industry. As we know, supporting pilots, trials and demonstrations is important to further research and development and to realise the extensive applications hydrogen has to offer.

In addition to this targeted funding, we have laid good foundations for hydrogen's safe use across Australia, by working with the states and territories to review hydrogen safety regulations for government and industry. In April this year Australia also became a member of the US Center for Hydrogen Safety and, alongside industry, we are developing a certification scheme. This scheme will adhere to agreed international standards and allow us to trace and certify hydrogen production, guaranteeing transparency for consumers and certainty for government in assessing emissions. We are also supporting the integration of hydrogen in Australia's gas networks, reviewing national gas laws and other energy laws and options for setting and allowing updates to the upper limits on the volume of hydrogen-natural gas blends permitted in our networks. This brings me to a very exciting hydrogen project based at the Tonsley Innovation District, which is in my electorate of Boothby.

Tonsley is the home of innovation in South Australia. Their involvement in hydrogen production and blending is no exception to this. Hydrogen Park South Australia is being built at Tonsley by Australian Gas
Infrastructure Group and will feature Australia's largest electrolyser. The 1.25 megawatt proton exchange membrane electrolyser will remove carbon from the natural gas supply using renewable energy, creating zero carbon hydrogen gas before that gas is blended back into the natural gas network for an efficient and clean burn. It is underpinned by another visionary Liberal government, with a $4.9 million grant from the Marshall Liberal government, alongside AGIG's $6.5 million dollar investment.

The project will supply over 700 homes in the adjacent suburb of Mitchell Park with up to a five per cent blend of hydrogen. The gas network supplying these homes has been sectioned off to allow for better measurement of the project's outcomes and goods consultation and communication with those residents who will be using this clean and blended gas. It will demonstrate the feasibility of blending hydrogen across the broader South Australian gas network and help inform government planning on the transition to a low-carbon gas distribution network that heavily features a hydrogen blend. Crucially, there will be no extra cost to customers who are receiving this gas as part of the project.

To borrow words from AGIG's chief executive Mr Ben Wilson, the project will deliver renewable hydrogen made from water, sunshine and wind and paves the way for commercial deployment of a hydrogen economy. Additionally, having the largest electrolyser in Australia has its benefits. Production at Hydrogen Park will be around 480 kilograms per day, providing a surplus that could also benefit local industry in South Australia where we currently import the product from Victoria.

It is such an exciting time for this industry which is supported by the Morrison and Marshall Liberal governments. I wish to commend all those who are leading the way for hydrogen in Australia and particularly the work of Ben Wilson and the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group for their ground-breaking work and their project in my electorate of Boothby.