OPINION: Australia is already a leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, coal and iron ore, and now interest in the country in the hydrogen sector is bubbling.


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The government has stated that a national hydrogen industry could generate more than 8000 jobs and over A$11 billion (US$8.5 billion) in gross domestic product by 2050.

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation estimates the potential demand for imported hydrogen in China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore alone could reach 3.8 million tonnes by 2030.

Australia is already aiming to capitalise on this potential opportunity as it looks to export the world’s first liquefied hydrogen cargo later this year.

Several pilot hydrogen projects are already under way around the country, some involving hydrocarbon heavyweights.

BP is involved in Santos’ capture and storage project in South Australia, which could potentially lead to a blue hydrogen development, while the UK supermajor is exploring the potential for an export-scale renewable hydrogen production facility in Western Australia.

A final investment decision is also expected this year on a green hydrogen project in Tasmania involving Woodside, which would produce about 4.5 tonnes per day of hydrogen.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group is also looking to make a final investment decision this year on a 250-megawatt green hydrogen project in Tasmania that would produce up to 250,000 tonnes per annum of green ammonia.

Even larger projects are the horizon, with a final investment decision on the first phase of the Asian Renewable Energy Hub expected in 2025.

That project could eventually grow to a renewable energy capacity of 26 gigawatts, with the majority of that to be used to run 14GW of electrolysers to produce green hydrogen.

Judging by last week's traditionally oil and gas-focused AOG Energy conference in Perth, Australia's industry appears to be taking note of the potential opportunity presented by hydrogen.

Organisers were forced to close the doors in order to comply with Covid-19 restrictions as the session hit capacity.

Australia's nascent hydrogen sector appears primed for takeoff.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)