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Australia's Hydrogen-Powered Transport Future Gets Boost with New Report

23 Aug 2023

Australia's Hydrogen-Powered Transport Gains Momentum: New Report Unveils Strategies

In a significant move towards a greener transport future, a collaborative effort by CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, and GHD Advisory has yielded a groundbreaking report on the imperative need for hydrogen-powered transport infrastructure in the country. The report, titled 'Hydrogen vehicle refuelling infrastructure,' underscores both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in establishing a robust network of hydrogen refuelling stations across Australia.

Amid the global push for sustainable transportation solutions, the report's findings resonate strongly. It advocates for Australia to align itself with the global trend towards hydrogen-powered vehicles, alongside electric vehicles, to ensure it remains competitive on the international stage. As battery electric vehicles (BEVs) spearhead the decarbonization of road transport, hydrogen-powered vehicles can play a crucial role, particularly in long-haul travel and freight transportation.

One of the prime advantages of hydrogen-powered vehicles is their rapid refuelling capability, enabling shorter pit stops during long journeys. Additionally, they boast a longer range between refuelling stops and can optimize cargo capacity due to their freedom from carrying large, heavy batteries required by BEVs.

The report meticulously outlines the opportunities and hurdles in establishing an effective infrastructure for hydrogen refuelling stations for road vehicles in Australia. Addressing the pressing need to decarbonize the transport sector, Prof Bronwyn Fox, CSIRO's chief scientist, highlights the sector's significant contribution of 18.6% of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Especially noteworthy is the role played by heavy vehicles in this emission profile.

Acknowledging hydrogen's critical role, Prof Fox emphasizes the infrastructural gaps that need to be bridged. Vital components such as pipelines, storage tanks, and hydrogen refuelling stations are still in their nascent stages, demanding immediate attention. The report's significance lies in its ability to pinpoint areas that require targeted research, innovation, and strategic action.

The report delves into the various aspects of hydrogen storage and dispensing, evaluating different infrastructure options based on fuel demand and proximity to hydrogen sources. The findings emphasize the need to transition from current on-site hydrogen production to a more centralized, off-site production and distribution model to facilitate efficient refuelling on a larger scale.

Shawn Wolfe, Executive Advisor at GHD Advisory and lead author of the report, highlights Australia's lag in adopting hydrogen-powered transport, compared to the rapid international progress. He cites examples of global players like Daimler and Ampol, who have embraced both hydrogen and electric transport futures.

Australia's unique geographical challenges call for innovative solutions that ensure widespread access to hydrogen across the vast continent. Dr. Patrick Hartley, Leader of CSIRO's Hydrogen Industry Mission, underscores the significance of research efforts encompassing the entire hydrogen supply chain, from production to storage, distribution, and utilization technologies.

The urgency to establish a comprehensive network of hydrogen refuelling stations is evident, considering Australia's current tally of only five operational stations and 20 planned or under construction. Dr. Hartley asserts that the report serves as a guiding light for regulators and industry stakeholders, providing a roadmap to strategically channel their efforts and advance the development of hydrogen-powered transport infrastructure.

As Australia aligns itself with global energy transitions, the report's insights offer a blueprint for a future where sustainable transport powered by hydrogen plays a pivotal role. With the world's attention on clean energy alternatives, Australia's commitment to a comprehensive hydrogen distribution system serves as a beacon of progress in the journey towards a greener, more sustainable future.

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