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CSIRO launch program to make Australia hydrogen fuel leader

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The CSIRO has launched new Future Science Platforms to make Australia a renewable energy exporter and hydrogen fuel hotspot.

It is investing $13.5 million into hydrogen fuel research and tailored health solutions.

Hydrogen fuel has been touted as a major future energy source. The development of a Hydrogen FSP will support the creation of technologies that will enable Australia to export its solar energy and a low-emissions energy source.

"Under our strategy 2020, we're committed to increasing funding for science that underpins innovation and will reinvent and create new industries and jobs for Australia's future," CSRIO chief executive Larry Marshall said.

"Today's announcement adds two new Future Science Platforms to our portfolio, which will transform two of Australia's most critical sectors – energy and health," Dr Marshall said.

He said that hydrogen also has the potential to act as energy storage in order to stabilise the grid.

"The opportunity for Australia is clear – we have access to vast energy resources through sun, wind, biomass, natural gas and coal, all of which can be used to produce hydrogen, allowing us to potentially become a leading exporter of new low to zero emissions energy," Dr Marshall said.

"Aussie sunshine can be exported all around the world as renewable, sustainable energy," he said at the National Press Club.

CSIRO energy director Karl Rodrigues told Fairfax Media the platform will research low emissions, energy efficient ways of generating hydrogen.

"We could literally bottle our sunshine through electrolysis and sell it," Dr Rodrigues said.

He said much of the demand is currently coming from Japan, adding that there is also growing industry interest in Australia.

"This is a great opportunity to take a global leadership position in new technology," he said.

"We could literally bottle our sunshine through electrolysis and sell it."

The creation of a new platform exploring hydrogen fuel technology is of little surprise for the energy sector, after CSIRO flagged hydrogen as a new pillar for the oil and gas industry in its most recent sector roadmap.

It found a renewed interest in hydrogen in many parts of the world represents a way to diversify and contribute to lowering the carbon intensity of the energy sector

"Its appeal for end-users is that with a few changes to equipment, clean-burning hydrogen can be directly used in combustion applications as well as used directly in fuel cells for power and transport," the CSIRO said.

Dr Marshall said the development of this relatively new sector of the energy industry will put Australia at the forefront of hydrogen technology, and the growth of other major industries.

"This is not only imperative to ensuring Australia has a diverse mix of energy sources but positions us to have a competitive edge in the global energy market, fuelling industries from transport, to manufacturing and agriculture," Dr Marshall said.

Energy and utility companies are also supporting hydrogen's growth as a future power source.

Icon Water and electricity distribution and transmission company ActewAGL awarded an endowment of up to $200,000 to an Australian National University hydrogen researcher on Wednesday.

Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli received the funding for his project investigating the cost-effective production and storage of hydrogen.

"We are proud to provide funding to support research into the fields of sustainable gas, electrical energy storage, sustainable transportation and the transition to a hydrogen economy, and this grant ensures researchers have the financial support to conduct this ground breaking research," ActewAGL general manager, energy networks, Stephen Devlin, said.

Major energy companies are also exploring the space. Shell and Total SA have invested in the Hydrogen Council, with the industry forecasting total investment of $US10.7 billion ($13.7 billion) over the next five years.

It is also expected to support the transformation of the transport industry, with growth in fuel cell electric vehicles predicted to be within the millions globally by 2030.

In Australia, Victoria is leading trials into using hydrogen as a replacement for traditional fuels.

Moreland Council and the Victorian state government launched a world first project earlier this year to run the council's entire fleet on hydrogen fuel.

South Australia is also aiming to integrate hydrogen-powered buses into its Adelaide public transport network.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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