House debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Matters of Public Importance


3:49 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I think we can all agree in this chamber on the principle of the importance of fuel security and its obvious importance from an economic point of view and from a national security point of view. Of course, as a government we have made some recent announcements to improve and enhance onshore storage and provisioning, particularly of diesel, and also refinement capacity in this country. I'm proud that the government is making those important, necessary decisions, and there may well be other things that need to be done into the future that we will certainly take into account. Just as importantly, on the topic of energy security, one of the things I'm particularly excited about is the opportunities we've got in hydrogen and the government's record in investing in hydrogen hubs and working with international partners for us to be a real hydrogen energy superpower. There's no doubt that to meet the commitments we've made to get to net zero by 2050 one of the big parts of that will be having a very substantial hydrogen industry. We are a nation that is well placed to be a world leader in hydrogen and have the ability to not only produce an enormous amount of hydrogen for our own needs here but also to export hydrogen around the world.

We are already seeing agreements signed between companies and governments. Japan and South Korea are two prominent examples—companies from those nations. They see the potential for Australia to produce the lion's share of their hydrogen needs here. I'm talking about green hydrogen that we produce through electrolysing with, most probably, renewable energy. In Adelaide we've got a trial site at Flinders University, where they're currently blending hydrogen into the natural gas network. There's an electrolyser there, and that uses renewable energy from the South Australian grid. Hydrogen is produced through electrolysis of water, splitting the H20 molecules so the oxygen is released and the hydrogen is captured. That is a very exciting pilot program that's seeing that blended into the natural gas network in the suburbs around Flinders University. In success, going forward, we could see that rolled out across the country, and more hydrogen than just the blend in the network that we've got right now.

Even more excitingly, we're seeing the government make commitments to major hydrogen hubs in the near future. I'm hopeful that my home state of South Australia will be favourably looked upon by the government when it comes to our ability to participate in the hydrogen supply chain. Of course, this is an industry that can exist right across the country. It doesn't have to choose one state or city over another. All of the states and territories have the ability to participate in a hydrogen industry and have that as a very significant fuel source domestically but also an enormous export industry for us. If hydrogen has a pathway to replacing diesel into the future in long-haul transport and other diesel use, we could see Australia being an enormous energy superpower from this opportunity because the ability for us to produce hydrogen should be unlimited. We should be able to produce all the world's required hydrogen if that's necessary. That's quite an ambitious objective, and I'm not suggesting that we will fulfil the 100 per cent bargain, but hydrogen can be a massive export industry for our country.

That's real fuel security because it's not increasing storage of someone else's fuels for longer supply chain periods here; it's producing our own energy here in Australia for Australian needs but also pursuing the export opportunities that we can have as the rest of the world moves down the path of decarbonising. I don't know anyone who would credibly suggest that we can achieve decarbonising the global economy without green hydrogen playing an enormous part in that. This is an exciting opportunity for our country. It's something that our government is investing in very heavily. We are partnering with industry to pursue the development of a hydrogen industry that we can see creating thousands of jobs directly—if not tens of thousands—and hundreds of thousands of jobs indirectly in this country. It will also make an enormous contribution to our energy security, grow our economy and help decarbonise the planet.


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