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Event highlights the potential for Hydrogen production with CCS in Australia’s Gippsland region

9th August 2019

Topic(s): ccs, hydrogen

The pathways to hydrogen production and the opportunities this emerging industry presents Victoria's Gippsland region was highlighted at an event at Federation University, Churchill, on Thursday 8 August.

The event, titled Hydrogen Forum: A pathway to environmental & regional prosperity - Where to for Gippsland?, brought together researchers, industry and community heard from a range of speakers on the pathways to hydrogen production, including from fossil fuels with CCS, its applications and export market potential.

In his welcome, Mayor of the Latrobe City Council, Cn Graeme Middlemiss, encouraged the delegates to view brown coal as a resource; one that can be utilised for new industries such as hydrogen production and recognised as vital in securing the future of the Latrobe Valley and its communities. He noted this would not only be beneficial to the Gippsland region, but to Australia, and welcomed the open discussion around, and progression of, the hydrogen story in the Latrobe Valley.

Australia's Chief Scientist and Chair of the National Australian Hydrogen Strategy Working Group, Dr Alan Finkel, presented the keynote address. During his presentation, Dr Finkel explained that with limited options to decarbonise our energy system, scale and diversity need to be considered, and demonstrated the unique capabilities hydrogen offers. He added that hydrogen production from coal or natural gas will be an important part of Australia's energy transition, calling it the is the "third primary energy source for a low emissions economy", and noting that has to be done with carbon capture and storage. Dr Finkel also addressed cost, saying that for hydrogen in the Latrobe Valley, hydrogen production from brown coal is "likely to be cost competitive".

Global CCS Institute CEO Brad Page spoke of the new energy economy that is required to reach global climate change targets, and the opportunity that hydrogen - as a zero emission, flexible fuel - offers as part of the decarbonisation road map. He demonstrated the various applications of hydrogen, it's low relative cost when produced with natural gas or coal with CCS and the twelve hydrogen production with CCS facilities currently operating or in planning around the world.

In addressing the potential that hydrogen production presents the Latrobe Valley, Mr Page spoke of the region's abundant natural resources, extensive sunk cost infrastructure, highly skilled workforce, familiarity of the resources industry and well-characterised, offshore geological storage nearby. With a carbon constrained future confronting the local and regional economy of the Latrobe Valley, Mr Page told the audience that climate change does not mean no fossil fuels; addressing CO2 is the issue. It is in this context that CCS can facilitate a new, clean energy economy of hydrogen production for the region, delivering jobs, a strong economy and further efficient new industries.

Gabrielle Henry of the Victorian Government's  Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning spoke about the Victorian Hydrogen Investment Program, sharing the progress and plans for renewable energy generated hydrogen. Ms Henry's presentation demonstrated once again the need for all options to be pursued for Victoria to achieve it's net-zero emissions target by mid century.

Other speakers earlier in the day included Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Steve Dimopoulos MP, the CSIRO's Dr Patrick Hartley, Richard Bolt from Swinburne University of Technology and Mr Koji Omata and Mr Seiji Hongo of J-Power Latrobe Valley who presented coal to hydrogen technology and what it means for the Latrobe Valley.

The afternoon session centred on the social and end user perspective of the hydrogen opportunity with University of Queensland's Professor Peta Ashworth presented research findings on the social license requirement of hydrogen production, followed by Professor Michael Brear of University of Melbourne who spoke about hydrogen from a safety perspective and Toyota Australia's Troy D'Souza on the progress to date, and future, of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The day concluded with an informative Panel discussion enabling those present, including the community, to engage with representatives from industry, academia and local Gippsland leaders on the topic of whether hydrogen production for the region presents a success story or a pipe dream.

It was clear from each presentation, and the Panel discussion, that Hydrogen production presents an incredible opportunity for the Gippsland region. Hydrogen production offers the region the chance to secure a sustainable future through utilising its abundant natural resources, suitable geology, existing local workforce and high levels of community acceptance of extractive industries

The Forum was hosted by Australian Carbon Innovation and Federation University, full presentations will be available from the ACI website.

Photo: Victorian State Government - Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

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