Hydrogen adoption in Australia has proceeded at a glacial pace, stymied by a lack of demand, a distinct shortage of supporting infrastructure, high cost of production and other factors.

Some progress seems to have been made on at least one front with energy retailer Viva Energy said to have started early works on its $43m hydrogen refuelling station in Geelong, Victoria.

While a single refuelling station – even one serving a major trucking hub – will hardly make a dent on the infrastructure issue, it does indicate that some progress is indeed being made on that front.

It incidentally implies as well that there is enough demand, at least from the heavy transport sector, for hydrogen – presumably green hydrogen produced using renewable energy.

Seizing the hydrogen opportunity now

PwC Australia certainly thinks that both industry and government need to act fast to demonstrate that Australia has both the desire and capability to attract investment in a hydrogen export industry.

It noted that both Japan and South Korea are potential markets for Australian hydrogen exports, having already signed hydrogen partnership agreements at government-to-government and private sector levels.

PwC adds that Australia’s potential for low-cost renewable energy is the key to producing green hydrogen at competitive prices, adding that developers need to start thinking about project configuration, including electrolyser sizing, solar redundancy, grid import and hybrid systems such as wind or hydro.

This will enable them to gain a better understanding of how best to configure projects for cost optimisation.

Australia also has existing industrial and export infrastructure that can be repurposed for a hydrogen industry if enabled to do so though there is a risk of sunk cost if the shipping, storage, and port infrastructure aren’t able to cater for what proves to be the ‘winning’ hydrogen carrier (be it liquid hydrogen, ammonia, or other potential carriers).

But all this is moot if action isn’t taken now, a point that Got Gas has put forward as well.

Building a hydrogen economy requires many steps such as building local demand, getting regulations in place, and creating the right production and export infrastructure.

However, all these steps mean taking action as soon as possible before the innovation and investment is taken elsewhere.