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Hydrogen has billion-dollar potential for Australia: Finkel

24 Oct 2018 2:26 PM | Sonia Harvey (Administrator)

THERE is a multibillion dollar potential in hydrogen exports to North Asia and Australia is well placed to take advantage of the demand, according to Australia’s chief scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, who spoke to Energy News on the sidelines of the Gas Technology Conference-14.

Gas know how will come in especially handy for future hydrogen exports, though LNG trains cannot be reconfigured to process the far colder hydrogen and shouldn't need to be given rising global LNG demand, he said.  

"The Japanese as part of their national strategy are looking at 10MMtpa per year 2020-2040 (at) US$2/kg," he said.  

"That's $20 billion per annum.  

"There is potential for South Korea to be an importer, we're talking a substantial industry here. We could be the major supplier to Japan. It's a non-trivial market." 

There is also domestic potential via pipe gas, and industrial uses, though hydrogen as an energy source in and of itself is unlikely.  

Australia isn't the only nation Japan is looking to; it is trialling varied technologies in Qatar, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Chile but Australia's proximity and export history help. 

The LNG boom that began in 1979 with the first contract signed and in 1989 with the first shipment from the North West Shelf consortium could be replicated for hydrogen with more haste, he said.  

Eventually there will be the same sorts of contracts, company to company, supported by bilateral agreements, spot markets and a trading hub, Finkel said all similar to the rapidly evolving LNG market.  

There are multiple technical challenges with hydrogen compared with gas, and though the decades of Australian know how helps there are large differences in that the liquefaction temperature is far lower, over -250C compared with -160C, it cannot be compressed in the same way as gas at scale, and it is not a recoverable resource, but must be created, however "the logic is the same", Finkel said.

Source: Energy News Bulletin

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