CSIRO launches mission to build hydrogen industry

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday May 26, 2021

(Image: Adobe/scharfsinn86)

The CSIRO has announced a new $68 million mission that will focus on collaborative research, development and demonstration projects that support the building of Australia’s clean hydrogen industry.

Dr Patrick Hartley, who is leading the Hydrogen Industry Mission, said the initiative would deliver partnerships that ‘help make Australia’s hydrogen markets a reality’.

“CSIRO’s unique position at the nexus of research, government, and industry gives us the ability to bring together stakeholders, and our track record of partnering and leveraging research funds means that we are able to grow this new phase of the industry without the need for everyone to do it alone,” he said on Wednesday.

More than 100 projects worth a combined $68 million have been planned over the next five years by CSIRO ‘partners’, including the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and the Victorian government.

Other partners include Fortescue Metals Group, Swinburne University, the Future Fuels CRC, National Energy Resources Australia, and the Australian Hydrogen Council.

There are currently four key programs of work, including a Hydrogen Knowledge Centre to capture and promote hydrogen projects and industry developments across Australia; feasibility and strategy studies to deliver advice to government, industry and the community; demonstration projects that validate hydrogen value chains and de-risk enabling technologies; and enabling science and technology through investment in breakthrough science.

READ MORE: CSIRO launches co-developed missions program to overcome Australia’s biggest challenges

CSIRO noted that while hydrogen can be mixed with oxygen to create an emissions-free fuel source, it is an expensive process. The mission aims to make the fuel more affordable by reducing the cost of hydrogen production to less than $2 per kilogram, according to CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.

“Australia can become a renewable energy leader through the production, use and export of hydrogen, but it will only become a reality if we break through the $2/kg barrier,” he said.

“That needs Australia’s world-class science working with CSIRO’s commercialisation expertise turning breakthrough science into real-world solutions.”

Marshall said hydrogen could contribute 8,000 jobs and $11 billion a year in GDP to Australia’s economy, but a ‘Team Australia’ approach would be required.

Australia’s chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley said Australia must be ‘bold and ambitious’ in order to transition towards a low-emissions economy.

“Hydrogen is well placed to be a key element in this transition, but the emerging Australian hydrogen industry is at a critical stage,” she said.

“Research development and demonstration partnerships like we are seeing as part of CSIRO’s Hydrogen Industry Mission are vital to enabling the development and growth of this exciting new industry.”

The CSIRO launched its missions program in August 2020, and identified six challenges for the nation to overcome, relating to health and wellbeing, food security and quality, national security, the resilience of the environment, the sustainability of energy and resources, and the future of industries.

READ MORE: Biosecurity threats like pandemics will continue to rise if Australia doesn’t act, CSIRO finds


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