ARENA CEO floats ambitious new goals for Australia’s future electricity system


From pv magazine Australia

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) allocates federal funds to green energy projects across the country. At the recent Australian Energy Week event, the agency’s chief executive, Darren Miller, gave a speech in which he upped the ante in terms of where Australia’s renewable energy generation should be targeting. He says the country should be trying to generate “five to 10 times more than is supplied by our electricity system today.”

“This electricity will not only be used to provide zero emissions lighting, heating and cooling to our homes and businesses, but will be used to power our transport and heavy industry – either directly or through the production of hydrogen,” Miller wrote in a LinkedIn post. “With the right mix of storage and peaking technologies, transmission and interconnection, and demand side flexibility, we can get to a scale that allows Australia to transform our domestic economy and supply clean energy to other countries without the same natural resources.”

Matt Walden, ARENA’s director of business development and transactions, expressed similar sentiments in a speech at the Australian Hydrogen Conference in Sydney last week. Walden described hydrogen as front and center of the agency’s investments, with both men framing hydrogen as an ideal medium for Australia to export its surplus clean power.

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However, Kobad Bhavnagri – global head of industry and building decarbonization for BloombergNEF (BNEF) – said that the economics of Australia’s hydrogen export market remain “poor.” He attributed this to the high cost of transport, coupled with the cost of processing hydrogen at each end – for example, “cracking” ammonia molecules to turn them back into pure hydrogen.

Yet superpowers like Germany remain undeterred and are eager to pursue close alliances with Australia, as they see it as one of the most promising hydrogen suppliers in the world.

“Australia can become the clean energy superpower – and make ‘shipping the sunshine' a very profitable reality,” said Christoph von Speßhardt, chief executive of the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

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