The South Australian Government has now launched its Hydrogen Action Plan, which builds on the Hydrogen Roadmap for South Australia released in 2017.

The Hydrogen Action Plan identifies domestic and export market opportunities for hydrogen produced using renewable energy generated in South Australia. It also sets out the key SA Government initiatives that are aimed at enabling South Australia to utilise its abundant renewable energy resources, as well as its land, infrastructure and skilled workforce, to grasp the significant opportunities presented by the emerging global hydrogen economy.

The initiatives are described in a framework of five strategies for developing a hydrogen supply sector in South Australia:

  1. Facilitate investments in hydrogen infrastructure
  2. Establish a world class regulatory framework
  3. Deepen trade relationships and supply capabilities
  4. Foster innovation and workforce skills development
  5. Integrate hydrogen into our energy system.

What are the Key Initiatives of the Hydrogen Action Plan?

Some of the initiatives described in the Hydrogen Action Plan include:

  • Incorporating hydrogen in the State’s long term infrastructure planning
  • Coordinating efforts to scale up the State’s hydrogen industry and developing a plan to guide investment
  • Delivering the South Australian Hydrogen Export Modelling Tool – The SA Government will work with industry on a study of existing and potential infrastructure required for an international-scale, renewable hydrogen export value chain (noting that an interactive hydrogen map is already available to enable international investors and project developers to identify ideal sites in South Australia for hydrogen infrastructure)
  • Establishing a cross-government agency Hydrogen Regulatory Working Group that includes first responders and all other workplace safety, environmental, planning and technical regulation authorities involved in the permitting of hydrogen facilities, to develop competency and awareness of hydrogen across government, ensure regulatory gaps are identified and addressed, and provide advice to proponents of hydrogen projects to ensure compliance with existing requirements
  • Working with Australian and international jurisdictions to develop a mechanism to guarantee the origin of South Australian hydrogen, particularly in relation to energy sources
  • Advocating at national and international levels for best practice, harmonised codes and standards, to simplify bureaucratic processes and improve efficiencies
  • Working proactively with the community and industry to increase knowledge and support for a growing renewable hydrogen industry
  • Promoting renewable hydrogen through SA’s network of trade and investment offices in China, northeast Asia, southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, including by facilitating business connections and providing support to companies looking to enter international markets and overseas investors looking for opportunities in SA
  • Working with industry, vocational education and training providers and universities to leverage the Skilling South Australia initiative and other programs to encourage apprenticeships and traineeships to support the hydrogen sector
  • Supporting the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre, the Australian Hydrogen Centre and a number of local demonstration projects to provide a platform for rapid testing, development and commercial expansion of hydrogen related projects
  • Facilitating knowledge sharing
  • Working with other Australian jurisdictions to identify any changes that might be needed to the national energy market framework to ensure the efficient integration of hydrogen into energy systems
  • Investigating the potential application of hydrogen electrolysis and fuel cell applications at remote sites to decarbonise existing diesel and LPG generators
  • Working with the minerals sector to investigate the opportunities for hydrogen in remote mining.

Why Hydrogen?

Hydrogen burns without generating greenhouse gas emissions. It can be mixed with a natural gas supply to reduce the emissions from gas-fuelled burning, and in appropriately modified devices, it can be used as a replacement fuel source.

Vehicles that are already in use around the world that are powered by hydrogen fuel cells include cars, buses, trains, trucks, forklifts and motorcycles. Opportunities exist to develop hydrogen-fuelled ships and even spacecraft.

Stored hydrogen can be converted back to electricity using a fuel cell or gas turbine, so it can be used to stabilise the electricity network by generating electricity when it is needed.

Hydrogen can be used to manufacture ammonia, which can be used directly to fertilise agricultural land or further processed into other forms of fertiliser. It can also be used in the manufacture of various industrial products.

Liquefied hydrogen can be exported by sea, allowing local renewable energy sources to be ‘exported’ to the world.

Why South Australia?

South Australia has significant areas with weather conditions that are ideal for co-located wind and solar-powered energy generation facilities. These sites are the most desirable for locating electrolysers that produce hydrogen from water using a consistent, on-site supply of low-cost renewable energy. These sites are already close to natural gas pipelines, rail and road infrastructure and the State’s cropping lands that provide a ready market for ammonia and/or fertiliser that is currently imported from interstate and overseas.

The SA Government is keen to facilitate the development of pilot, demonstration and larger facilities that operate across the whole of the hydrogen supply chain, and has already co-invested more than $17 million in grants and $25 million in loans to four local hydrogen production projects.

Now is the time to be thinking seriously about developing hydrogen (and associated ammonia) projects in SA.