Canberra’s latest bone-headed signal on green hydrogen

Comment by Peter Roberts

The federal government has added to frustration about its stance on potential exports of green hydrogen, announcing $40 million in funding to establish a Future Energy Exports (FEnEx) Cooperative Research Centre.

The FEnEx CRC, announced alongside a new CRC for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME), will develop ‘technologies to improve the efficiency of existing LNG processes and the development of new exports like hydrogen.’

Industry minister Karen Andrews said: “Importantly, the FEnEx CRC will tap into international interest in lowering the cost of energy production, while at the same time reducing the carbon footprint of the LNG industry.

“This CRC’s research program promises to place Australia’s LNG sector well ahead of the curve by anticipating future changes in our energy mix, improving the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries.”

So one of the aims of LNG research will be to reduce carbon emissions.

However when it comes to hydrogen, the government was at pains to avoid saying this had anything to do with climate change and its threat to our energy exports.

Nowhere in the media release from Andrews did the government talk of ‘green’ hydrogen which is produced using solar and wind power to electrolyse water.

This, and not conventionally produced hydrogen from materials such as coal, is Australia’s greatest export hope in a future carbon-constrained world.

By only mentioning ‘hydrogen’, the government continues its refusal to even talk about truly green fuels, a stance forced on it by climate deniers within the Coalition.

Only recently the government killed off the $20 million Australian-German Energy Transition Hub that was examining green hydrogen along with other ways to reduce our emissions profile.

Perhaps the FEnEx CRC will look at green hydrogen, but there is apparently no way the Coalition government will allow itself to highlight the fact.

We might get federal support for moves underway in a number of states to develop a green hydrogen sector, but Canberra will have to be dragged kicking and screaming even to talk about it.

The FEnEx CRC has generated $122 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry and researchers.

Picture: Austrade

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