Hydrogen, which burns cleanly and emits only water, is touted as a growth industry in the energy sector, particularly as some of the world’s biggest-emitting economies including China, Japan and Korea this year announced goals to become carbon-neutral, meaning their use of coal and gas will need to shrink.
Due to its ability to soak up and store energy from renewable sources, it is seen as a clean-energy alternative to gas for industrial processes requiring high heat, and to transport fuel to power cars, trucks and ships.
The Townsville project is Origin’s second export-scale hydrogen production proposal unveiled this month after it launched a $3.2 million feasibility study into a plant in Tasmania, which would produce hydrogen from renewable energy, combine it with nitrogen and turn it into ammonia for shipment. The plant would produce more than 420,000 tonnes of zero-emissions ammonia per year, the company said.
“Hydrogen produced from renewable energy has tremendous potential to support decarbonisation in Australia and overseas because it is one of the most abundant elements in the universe and can be produced with zero emissions,” Origin general manager of future fuels Felicity Underhill said.
“Origin has been exploring how hydrogen can best fit into Australia’s energy system and is progressing a number of opportunities.”
Technologies to create hydrogen out of renewable energy (green hydrogen) and from natural gas when emissions are captured in the conversion process (blue hydrogen) are being increasingly funded by governments around the world as part of their efforts to achieve carbon reduction goals. Hydrogen is also being embraced by oil and gas producers as a possible lifeline through which they can diversify.
Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor has identified hydrogen as one of five “priority technologies” for future investment to reduce emissions and envisages Australia becoming a leading hydrogen exporter by 2030 after securing a $370 million fund for new hydrogen projects last year.
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