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"The time to act is now, to seize the moment": Finkel on hydrogen

24 Sep 2019 3:01 PM | Sonia Harvey (Administrator)

AUSTRALIA’s chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel opened today’s International Conference on Hydrogen Safety in Adelaide, the first time the event has been held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Finkel is overseeing the nation's hydrogen roadmap and speaks often on the huge potential it could offer Australia across the energy system, and as a new export.

"The time to act is now, to seize the moment," he said.

Finkel began with praise of Australia's Antarctic unit, which first developed hydrogen for use at the Mawson Station 2005, using wind power and electrolysers to split water into its component parts and cut back on diesel reliance in one of the most distant and least hospitable places in the world.

"What a staggering feat of ingenuity - proving that even in the coldest, darkest, most-hostile continent on Earth, where special materials and construction techniques are often required, hydrogen energy can be safely and effectively harnessed for human benefit," he said.

Finkel sees a plan where Australia has worked its way thought the benefits, risks and barriers to using hydrogen as transport fuel by 2030 before the country realises "the opportunities for clean hydrogen production and storage to contribute to the resilience of Australia's electricity systems," he said.

He also wants to see it introduced into gas networks, something most of Australia's major pipeliners like ATCO and APA Group have been looking at in varied ways, and, following from the federal government's focus, wants to create an export industry to take advantage of the hydrogen roadmaps proposed by North Asia's major economies.

Finkel's speech was a general one and based around his view of Australia's future hydrogen roadmap, and focused on collaboration, safety and transparency, the themes of the conference.

He didn't delve into how the fuel could, or should be made, whether from renewable energy and electrolysers to split water, or from fossil fuels and carbon capture and storage technologies.

But in a separate interview on the sidelines he spoke to the ABC's Radio National and the inevitable question of 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg's speech to the United Nations came up, where she said should governments not act now her generation would never forgive them.

Source: Energy News Bulletin

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