Trans-Pacific partnership aims to accelerate green hydrogen uptake

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From pv magazine Australia.

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Canada, will share best practice and develop clean energy research and demonstration projects including hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

Looking to enhance research and unlock opportunities for greater economic growth in both countries, the research institutions have inked a memorandum of understanding aligned with the latest call to action from Mission Innovation. That multilateral body is an initiative by 24 countries and the European Commission seeking to accelerate public and private innovation to make clean energy widely affordable. Launched last May, the organization’s eighth Innovation Challenge aims to: “accelerate the development of a global hydrogen market by identifying and overcoming key technology barriers to the production, distribution, storage and use of hydrogen at gigawatt scale”.

Hydrogen produced by solar and wind-powered electrolysis has been seen as Australia’s golden opportunity. The nation’s potential to become the world’s largest producer and exporter of green hydrogen has been widely reported by CSIRO, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), chief scientist Alan Finkel and the International Energy Agency as demand for hydrogen rises in Asia. Japan is leading the drive to deploy green hydrogen in industry and has been described as Australia’s prime export market.

Backing for research

Last year, CSIRO released a National Hydrogen Roadmap that stated the development of a hydrogen export industry represented a significant opportunity for Australia and a potential ‘game changer’ for domestic industry and the broader energy sector, due to associated increases in scale. It also found an economically-sustainable hydrogen industry could soon be a reality.

Since then, hydrogen research conducted by CSIRO has secured financial backing from ARENA as part of a $22.1 million (US$15.3 million) funding round to boost national research and development projects in the field. The science agency also entered a $20 million partnership with iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group involving a five-year agreement to fund and support selected CSIRO hydrogen technologies.

“CSIRO is conducting hydrogen research along the entire value chain and we look forward to collaborating with UBC to help facilitate demonstrations that will clear the path to market for new technologies,” said CSIRO energy director Tim Finnigan. “By working together we can pool resources and expertise for mutually beneficial outcomes.”

According to James Olson, dean of UBC’s faculty of applied science, the Canadian university was thrilled to join CSIRO in advancing the objectives of Mission Innovation’s Renewable and Clean Hydrogen Innovation Challenge. “UBC has long been a leader in hydrogen fuel cell-related research and development in Canada and we are eager to draw on our vast expertise in hydrogen production, storage, distribution and use to help pave the way to a cleaner future,” he said.