(Australian Associated Press)
Two hydrogen energy hubs will receive $150 million in federal funding as the government throws more weight behind the industry.
The announcement comes on top of the $1.2 billion set aside for hydrogen, which has emerged as a future renewable energy source.
Hydrogen is expected to play a key role as part of federal government initiatives to cut carbon emissions.
There are now seven prospective sites for hydrogen hubs in Australia including the Hunter Valley in NSW, the Pilbara in WA and Bell Bay in Tasmania.
Other potential sites are in Darwin, South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, Gladstone in Queensland, and Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
Government funding is expected to assist the potential locations to build on existing infrastructure and allow hydrogen to be exported to other countries.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said hydrogen hubs would contribute to emission-reduction efforts.
“We are accelerating the development of our Australian hydrogen industry and it is our ambition to produce the cheapest clean hydrogen in the world, transforming our transport, energy, resources and manufacturing sectors,” he said.
“This is good for jobs, good for our environment and contributes to our global effort to reduce emissions through technology not taxes.”
The government estimates the industry could be worth as much as $11 billion a year in gross domestic product by 2050.
It is hoped the new energy hubs would allow for hydrogen to be produced in Australia for less than $2 per kilogram.
Australia’s renewable energy initiatives are set to come under international scrutiny at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow later this year.
The federal government has pledged to cut emissions by up to 26 per cent, based on 2005 emissions levels.
While the government has expressed a preference to achieve net-zero emissions as soon as possible, it has not committed to reaching the goal by 2050.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor said hydrogen hubs would allow the country to expand its energy output.
“A thriving hydrogen sector will help Australia to achieve its emission-reduction goals while continuing to grow our economy and support existing industries,” he said.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the funding announcement would benefit regional Australia.
“We welcome a plan to harness Australia’s abundant natural resources to boost exports, reduce emissions and deliver new jobs for Australia’s regions,” she said.