Australia’s drive towards the hydrogen economy is continuing with National Energy Resources Australia (NRA) leading an effort to set up a network of regional hydrogen technology hubs across the country.

These hubs will aid in the development of the hydrogen supply chain, reduce overlaps and identify gaps in the development, deployment, and commercialisation of new hydrogen focused technologies.

They will also operate as a virtual network to establish a global identity and recognised brand for Australian hydrogen technology and expertise.

Establishing the clusters, which cover all of Australia’s states and territories, comes after the conclusion of a seed funding selection program started by NERA in September.

NERA has also been able to leverage a range of funding commitments from state and territory governments around hydrogen as well as industry financial support.

Hydrogen has the potential to increase Australia’s gross domestic product by up to $26bn according to a 2019 Deloitte report.

FMG chairman Andrew Forrest highlighted this potential recently, voicing his support for the use of green hydrogen – hydrogen produced using renewable energy – to produce steel, which would reduce emissions while developing a new nation-building sector.

“Today marks a great step forward in Australia’s capability in developing hydrogen technologies,” NERA chief executive Miranda Taylor said.

“These regional clusters, all of which have the support of their state and territory governments, have been established around key, existing hydrogen projects and technology supply chains in strategic locations that have a demonstrated capacity to support them.

“This will ensure long-term local cohesion and sustainable capability across the emerging hydrogen value chain.”

NERA had identified the development of a national hydrogen cluster as an important component to scale up Australia’s domestic industry to become a global hydrogen competitor.

Hydrogen hubs

Notable hubs are the Gippsland Hydrogen Technology cluster, the Hunter Hydrogen Technology cluster, the Territory Hydrogen Technology cluster and the Western Australian Hydrogen Technology cluster.

The Gippsland cluster received $250,000 in initial funding while the other hubs secured $200,000 in funding each.

A range of other clusters received initial funding of between $50,000 and $150,000.