Australian companies leading the emerging hydrogen economy are preparing for their first major face-to-face opportunity to engage with Europe in more than two years.
The federal trade agency Austrade announced on Monday it is partnering with the Australian Hydrogen Council to showcase projects at a summit in the Netherlands next month.
Cementing ties with future export markets and attracting foreign investment in Australian projects will be vital for a commercially viable hydrogen energy industry.
Australian Hydrogen Council CEO Fiona Simon told AAP the events unfolding in Europe are putting an additional sense of urgency into issues of energy security and storage.
“It does add an extra dimension to how people are considering hydrogen, within a suite of options to better secure energy independence.”
But Germany has been “engaging heavily” with Australia over the past year, and showing they are serious about wanting to import hydrogen from a range of sources, Dr Simon said.
North Asian partners Japan and South Korea are also actively chasing hydrogen as a future energy alternative, as major economies map out a pathway to net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.
Australia’s hydrogen economy could be worth up to $26 billion by 2050, according to Deloitte.
But Dr Simon said Australian industry would need a conversion program and “policy gusto” from federal and state governments to level the playing field with fossil fuels.
Trade and Investment Commissioner for the Netherlands Annika Barton said companies such as Woodside, CWP and Origin Energy, among others, are leading the way in hydrogen technologies and supply chains.
“There is strong commercial appetite to shape this energy transition within the industry,” Ms Barton said.
Companies are working on hydrogen storage and transport technologies and see Europe as a key client for green hydrogen – made without fossil fuels – within the next decade.
Dr Simon said the current work with Germany on getting hydrogen to Europe would see hydrogen shipped as ammonia.
The distance is less of a problem when transported in that form, rather than as liquid hydrogen which is being trialled for the closer Asian markets.
“It makes Australia a more solid contender for those distant markets,” she said.
Rotterdam port, where a hydrogen hub is being developed, would connect the industrial heartland of Germany with hydrogen through a direct pipeline.
Imports are expected to start in 2024 , according to the Port of Rotterdam Authority
Europe’s leading hydrogen conference, the World Hydrogen Summit, will be held on May 9-11.