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Survey questions

What do you think are the two or three most significant recent developments in hydrogen?
The most significant breakthrough in my opinion was the successful launch and deployment of the world’s first passenger Hydrail here in Germany. The combination of battery and fuel cell is a key for this technology in the transport sector, decreasing the amount of required hydrogen fuel and increasing operational efficiency of the system. To make the technology scalable and industrialize e.g. electrolysis, still there is a considerable amount of funding and incentives necessary. However, key to success is as well the build-up and activation of an integrated ecosystem (cross-sector/ cross-industry) based on a sector coupling thinking. This helps to bundle demand for hydrogen on a regional approach and to define and focus on specific use cases. In some geographical regions, hydrogen application sometimes are not that feasible or market activation requires much more effort than in other regions. To recognize the importance of regional ecosystems with an overall integrated strategy rather than looking at a pure centralized approach is a further important development in my eyes. Moreover, I see big potential for hydrogen in energy storage. The more an energy transition strives foreward, from conventional fuel to renewables the more a flexible energy storage will be required. There are significant developments in using natural caverns for the storage or upgrade existing pipeline and storage infrastructure. Also in this case, decentralized approaches promise the most effect. All what it needs, is a strong commitment of the government and industry, focused incentives and bundling of demand (industrial use, mobility, heat, energy) in order create a favorable economic environment.
What are the most important safety issues to consider in producing, handling and using hydrogen in Australia?
When it comes to safety issues I believe that existing regulations for gasoline, LNG etc. are already a good basis. We checked this in one of our studies for the German Government related to Hydrail deployment in Germany in 2016. The storage of hydrogen in big quantities, however, might bring certain risks and may require adjustments on regulations as well as on routines of the users. As an example, the public transport operator (Hochbahn) of the City of Hamburg/ Germany tested fuel cell buses continuously between 2010 and 2019. From 2012 onwards, four buses were used in daily operation moving hundreds of passengers around every day without any incident. Beginning of 2019, the operator stopped the deployment of these buses stating that the technology is working fine. However, the supplier (OEM) was not able to provide buses with improved technology (fuel cell in combination with battery) on a larger scale. This became necessary, as the City of Hamburg, like many other cities in Europe, is being forced to reduce CO2 and NOx emissions drastically from 2020 onwards. Thus, descision was done to consider pure battery powered buses for the meantime, as technology is a bit more ahead and available in larger scale on the market. A further problem was the storage of hydrogen in bigger amounts in residential areas, something which could have been overcome by changing operational routines and depot infrastructure.
What environmental and community impacts should we examine?
If infrastructure and technological projects are to achieve acceptance by society, a well-conceived and professionally-executed public consultation is required. The sooner key players and citizens can be involved, the lesser the risk of conflict. For communication and public consultation as well as the accompanying acceptance research there is a multitude of possible measures which can be coordinated from a central point and must be linked together. A good practice is to set-up a project office in a region where hydrogen projects are considered (production, usage, storage) until this projects are deployed in regular operation. Based on a communication plan, the project office analyses on an ongoing basis the awareness of all actors, bundles together existing information, requests, and need for discussion, coordinates the implementation of different information and consultation measures and regularly adjusts planning due to new developments and knowledge. The project office as well as the entire public consultation is seen to be particularly trustworthy when overseen by a public institution wishing to drive forward technological development with this measure and has no commercial interests. Typical “fears” and “doubts” of stakeholders are, e.g.: - Is a hydrogen vehicle like a ticking “time bomb on wheels” – having in mind the Hindenburg incident in Germany in 1937 - What happens to agricultural fields and groundwater when hydrogen leaks close to these places - Changing routines at gas stations/ behavior change required for filling routine? This is a minor point as FCEVs are considered to have almost same reach as gasoline vehicles. However, as the filling infrastructure is not yet developed, uncertainty about getting in time to the next filling station exist
How can Australia influence and accelerate the development of a global market for hydrogen?
Australia is seen as a strategic supplier especially for Asian countries. There are already strategic talks with South Korea and Japan which build a good starting point. More should follow with other countries. Moreover, China will become a huge market in the coming decades. With the China Hydrogen Alliance, founded in Feb 2018 as well as many regional approaches and consideration of hydrogen technology in the plan “Made in China”, the country aims to have 1 million FCEV on the road by 2030. To achieve this, a lot of money is being put into R&D through incentives/ funding programs (approx. 12.4bi USD in 2017 for R&D). To focus first on the development of technologies for production (from coal but also considering renewables, especially solar and wind energy) and distribution/ export of hydrogen as a commodity will bring Australia into a good position. The activation of the domestic demand, however, will also become very important in the midterm. There are huge investments into infrastructure required, and it is quite likely, that Asian countries strive to become independent as well from hydrogen imports in the longterm. Therefore it is a must, to stimulate domestic demand (industry, mobility, energy, heat) simultaneously to export projects. Also, there are definitely quite huge opportunities to position Australia in the field of production and transportation technologies.
What are the top two or three factors required for a successful hydrogen export industry?
Key enablers for take-off are: - Quick adjustments of regulations or sandbox schemes for pilot projects (safety, taxes, building permits, etc.) - Development of required infrastructure (upgrade of existing pipelines, new builds) while considering Capex and production cost reduction - Ecosystem commitment (focus on regions, where hydrogen can be produced easily and cost effective and where transport distance to the port is short. Perfect when there is potential domestic demand close by)
What are the top two or three opportunities for the use of clean hydrogen in Australia?
Green hydrogen is specifically interesting for energy storage/ flexibilisation of power grids as well as the mobility sector: public transport (buses, taxi, trains), FCEVs, fuel cell river ships and in the mid-term aviation (short-/ mid-distance flights) as well as production of eFuels. Overall, clean hydrogen can be deployed over the time in all fields where hydrogen is being used and will be used.
What are the main barriers to the use of hydrogen in Australia?
Main barrier in my opinion for the use of hydrogen in Australia is the cost competiveness of coal and the mindset to this. Due to the excess of coal there is no urgent need to consider new technologies such as hydrogen (which has the potential to replace coal at a certain stage also in Australia, far away in the future) for domestic usage today. South Korea and Japan, where hydrogen technology is a priority topic, for example have a much bigger pressure (95% depends on fossil fuels from abroad) to develop hydrogen technology quickly. But, it will be important for Australia to stimulate also domestic demand, as the risk that potential key importers of Australian hydrogen produced from coal (Japan, South Korea) will demand clean hydrogen in the not too far future.
What are some examples where a strategic national approach could lower costs and shorten timelines for developing a clean hydrogen industry?
I recommend to deeply analyze Japanese Basic Hydrogen Strategy (2017) and Roadmap (2014) as well as South Koreas’ Roadmap released beginning of this year. Another good example is the “Roadmap for the Realisation of a Wind Hydrogen Economy in Northern Germany” (Chemcoast: and funding schemes and initiatives in Europe which are focusing now regional ecosystems (Germany: National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology: and FCH-JU’s initiative of Hydrogen Valleys:
What are Australia’s key technology, regulatory and business strengths and weaknesses in the development of a clean hydrogen industry?
Looking from outside to Australia, the vast amount of coal and gasification technology is a major strength. Also the geographical location (close to Asia and potential demand countries) is a big advantage for positioning the country as a top exporter, not to forget the potential of renewables also in combination with hydrogen. However, these are opportunities. Unfortunately I am not too much aware about local strengths and weaknesses though.
What workforce skills will need to be developed to support a growing clean hydrogen industry?
What we recognize is the increasing demand on strategic skills and integrative mindsets when it comes to set-up and coordination of ecosystems. It is important to strategically understand on the one side technical aspects, combined with business understanding and operational know how, and, as a key focus is export, cultural understanding of the export markets. Furthermore, deep knowledge of the respective demand sectors (automotive, transportation, chemical industry, energy) + government sector are a must have.
What areas in hydrogen research, development and deployment need attention in Australia? Where are the gaps in our knowledge?
Hydrogen in storage, transportation of hydrogen, ecosystem management and (behavior) change management
Do you have any other comments or submissions to this process?
Being part of EYs core expert team for hydrogen, specifically in the field of market activation and strategic ecosystem management, I would be more than happy to share my knowledge and support further on the way forward to a Australian hydrogen (export) economy.