Response 954503802

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Derek Walter (Dr)

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Your comments

Survey questions

What do you think are the two or three most significant recent developments in hydrogen?
The most significant recent development is the CSIRO's discovery of an inexpensive method of converting hydrogen to ammonia and vice versa. This can potentially resolve the storage and transport issues associated with hydrogen. Ammonia is much easier, safer and cheaper to store and transport. The Government should ensure this process is further researched and fully developed if possible. I am not aware of any other significant recent developments.
What are the most important safety issues to consider in producing, handling and using hydrogen in Australia?
Safety issues are well known, and others will no doubt comment on them. The CSIRO's process of conversion to ammonia can potentially resolve some safety issues.
What environmental and community impacts should we examine?
1. Examination of the greenhouse emissions and climate change impacts of hydrogen relative to other fuel and energy sources must be the top priority. 2. Greenhouse emissions and climate change impacts of the two main alternatives for hydrogen production must also be examined. We would need to be very certain of having secure and adequate CO2 geo-sequestration before pursuing the option of hydrogen from coal and gas. 3. It would also be worthwhile to quantify the general air quality benefits of hydrogen, which would be considerable - again a comparison with other fuel/energy sources should be made. 4. A minor potential disadvantage of hydrogen when used for combustion is the generation of water vapour. If hydrogen were to be widely used in the internal combustion engines of vehicles, there could be local humidity impacts around major roads. Capture of the water vapour in the vehicles may be necessary. Presumably the water by-product will be captured in fuel cell vehicles in any case.
How can Australia influence and accelerate the development of a global market for hydrogen?
Fairly obviously, we can influence the development of a global market by rapidly developing a successful local hydrogen industry and local applications of hydrogen in transport and industry. This cannot be left to the market and private enterprise - very significant government involvement is required.
What are the top two or three factors required for a successful hydrogen export industry?
No comment.
What are the top two or three opportunities for the use of clean hydrogen in Australia?
The use of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, and its use as a fuel in industrial processes that require process heat, are obvious major applications. Take-up will depend mostly upon the level of support and services the Government provides. In particular the Government should take responsibility for the establishment of a hydrogen (or ammonia) storage and transport/pipeline network, and begin work on it as soon as possible. Very substantial government support for the conversion of vehicles and industrial processes to hydrogen fuel is also required.
What are the main barriers to the use of hydrogen in Australia?
1. Development of hydrogen production facilities will be required. This will require a major acceleration of renewable energy production (for production of hydrogen by electrolysis) or rapid development of coal/gas conversion facilities. Such developments are unlikely without major government involvement. 2. The need for specialised plant and equipment should be examined. Local manufacture is preferable if a major hydrogen industry is to be developed. If the development of plant and equipment overseas is not far advanced, some R&D will be necessary.
What are some examples where a strategic national approach could lower costs and shorten timelines for developing a clean hydrogen industry?
A strategic national approach is vital. Without a clear policy framework, appropriate national legislation and very substantial government funding and service provision, a clean hydrogen industry cannot be developed rapidly (or possibly at all).
What are Australia’s key technology, regulatory and business strengths and weaknesses in the development of a clean hydrogen industry?
Historically, successful industrial development in Australia has been driven by government. Government has directly provided the necessary infrastructure, set clear policy directions and regulated the economic structure of industries. There has been a very clear framework for private sector activity. The neo-liberal, laissez-faire approach taken in recent decades has largely failed and has resulted in the demise of most of Australia's industrial base and a deterioration of its utility services. A substantial clean hydrogen industry cannot be rapidly developed, and perhaps cannot be developed at all, without reverting to the traditional policy approach.
What workforce skills will need to be developed to support a growing clean hydrogen industry?
Cannot comment in detail on this, but obviously the need for specialist professional and trade skills needs to be examined and quantified. The Government will need to ensure the relevant skills are provided, by arranging for the establishment of appropriate TAFE and university courses and ensuring that employment in the new industry is attractive.
What areas in hydrogen research, development and deployment need attention in Australia? Where are the gaps in our knowledge?
1. Further development of the CSIRO ammonia conversion process should be pursued as a high priority. 2. As mentioned above, some R&D in relation to specialised plant and equipment (for production, storage and transport) may be necessary.
Do you have any other comments or submissions to this process?
Thanks for this initiative, please pursue it diligently.