The Australian government claims to be positioning the country as a “future hydrogen export powerhouse” following the signing of a new agreement with Germany.

The Australian government revealed Friday it had signed an agreement with Germany to carry out a joint feasibility study into the potential for closer collaboration and the future development of a hydrogen supply chain between the two countries.

The joint study will cover production, storage, transport and use of renewable hydrogen, while it will also assess current technology and research, and identify barriers for the development of a hydrogen industry.

Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, claims the potential supply chain between the two nations could eventually “lead to billions of dollars in export earnings” for Australia, while helping Germany meet its clean energy ambitions.

“These kinds of partnerships will be critical to further developing our emerging hydrogen industry and Australia’s future as a powerhouse in clean energy exports,” he said.

“Exploring opportunities for future collaboration on commercial scale operations and investments in hydrogen production is vital if Australia is to realise the significant economic benefits and job creation opportunities hydrogen brings.”

Building on LNG industry

Birmingham added that Australia, which is already one of the world’s largest exporters of liquefied natural gas, was well positioned to become a major supplier of low emissions hydrogen, but noted it needed to continue to develop links with future importers.

Australia’s Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, also noted that Australia had a competitive advantage to become a world leader in exporting hydrogen by utilising expertise and infrastructure from its LNG industry.

“Australia’s future hydrogen industry has the potential to generate 7600 new jobs by 2050, many in regional Australia, with exports estimated to be worth around A$11 billion (US$8 billion) a year in additional [gross domestic product],” he said.

“This is why the Australian government has committed more than A$500 million to back this industry’s development.”

National Hydrogen Strategy

In addition to the agreement with Germany, over the past year Australia has also signed a letter of intent to develop a hydrogen action plan with Korea, entered a pact to cooperate with Japan to cooperate on hydrogen and fuel cells, while it has also agreed to pursue a memorandum of understanding with Singapore by the end of the year on low emissions technologies. In April this year, Australia also became a member of the US Center for Hydrogen Strategy.

These initiatives form part of Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, which this year is focused on international collaboration, national coordination, supporting priority industry projects and legislative reviews.

The government has also committed A$370 million towards the nation’s hydrogen industry since the release of the strategy late last year, while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency recently received 36 expressions of interest, for projects totalling more than A$3 billion, for the current $70 million Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round.

It was confirmed in July that oil and gas giants BHP, Woodside and Engie had been shortlisted for the next stage of the round, along with ATCO Australia, Macquarie Group, Australian Gas Networks and APT Management Services.