Nov 16, 2020Clean Energy Future

Hydrogen Sector to Rely on Australian Natural Gas

As the price of production and usage drops, the conversation around a potential Australian hydrogen sector is becoming increasingly optimistic.

Hydrogen is a prevalent gas found in a wide variety of industrial applications, such as refining vehicle fuels and producing fertilisers, glass, and metal alloys. But hydrogen also offers an opportunity for clean energy to power homes, transport and industry.

Existing LNG infrastructure and expertise will support the sector around the energy source grow as it finds its feet, helping countries work towards meeting their net-zero Paris Agreement commitments.

“The natural gas network could be a key piece of infrastructure to support decarbonisation of the national energy system,” said Darren Miller, chief executive of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

There are currently two industrial methods employed in the capture of hydrogen, which is secured through separation from oxygen in water.

Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen that is produced through a process of steam reforming. This produces CO2 emissions that can be safely abated using underground capture and storage technology and is currently the most economically viable option to scale an export industry.

Green hydrogen electrolyses water with the aid of energy produced by renewables — such as wind and solar — and is the more nascent of the two technologies.

Several countries have committed to national hydrogen strategies, including Australia, which recently demonstrated its expertise as one of the world’s premier LNG exporters with a trial of liquefied hydrogen shipments to Japan, a process requiring the hydrogen to be cooled and stored at temperatures and below -252.87 Celsius. Australian producers such as Woodside have also expressed a strong interest in the delivery of large-scale hydrogen energy projects.

Australia has been exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) for many years, and has strong existing networks and international relationships. Leveraging this gas-specific expertise and infrastructure would be an immense boost to building hydrogen into a meaningful component of the economy.

Natural gas will continue to serve as an essential contributor to the growth and investment of these exciting developments as government and industry continue their work towards a cleaner energy future.