Mega hydrogen production, electric vehicle manufacture touted for Australia

As voters contemplate a looming federal election plans are emerging for mega re-industrialising projects – not from federal politicians, but from elsewhere in the community.

Over in the west the WA government plans to create five hydrogen hubs that electrolyse water using green solar pv and wind power in the Pilbara region by 2030.

A WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation presentation obtained by WAtoday outlines a vision for the iron ore regionas a “global centre of hydrogen production, use and export at scale, as well as a centre of a new green iron ore and steel industry.

And in the more traditionally industrial east a Rebuilding Vehicle Manufacturing in Australia plan from the Australia Institute’s Carmichael Centre calls for the resurrection of car manufacturing – this time for electric vehicles.

The report says with 34,258 people still working in the vehicle components sector and some old car factories still intact, Australia has a base from which to restart the industry.

Report author Dr Mark Dean said a new EV industry would make the transition to a low c arbon future easier.

According to The Guardian he said: “For decades the auto industry was the glue that held communities together. It provided security and good standards of living.

“What you’ll be doing is saying to all these different people in all these different communities that by creating an electric vehicle industry-driven future, you will benefit.”

Asia Pacific president of electric drive train manufacturer SEA Electric Bill Gillespie said there remains a sophisticated skills base locally, as evidenced in the company’s local design and engineering team.

Gillespie said: “The strong local uptake of electric cars in 2021 points to the possibilities, but in commercial vehicles, companies need to see a pathway from governments to be assured that they are investing in a sustainable emission technology for their fleets.

“With around 20,000 diesel light and medium-duty trucks currently sold annually, Australia’s net-zero emissions goal by 2050 will not be met unless all governments take action to support the purchase of electric trucks.”

Back in the west the plan is to manufacture hydrogen at hubs near ports for export and access to land for solar and wind farms.

Five production hubs from Onslow to Port Hedland could be connected to each other and consumers by a hydrogen pipeline.

In November 2021, the government applied for federal funding to match its contribution of $117 million.

WA plans mirror equally ambitious plans in Queensland for green hydrogen production and export as well as in South Australia’s iron triangle region around Whyalla.

The SA government is spending $37 million extending the 2.4-kilometre-long jetty at Port Bonython near Whyalla for hydrogen export, and has shortlisted seven renewable hydrogen projects for the region .

Victorian producers recently exported the world’s first cargo of hydrogen – in this case brown hydrogen made from coal – to Japan.

Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy indicates a national hydrogen industry could generate about $11 billion a year in GDP by 2050

Picture: ABC Adelaide/GMH

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