To be clear, I am not an advocate for one type of hydrogen production over another. The more hydrogen we can produce from renewable electricity and the faster we can do it, the better. But I am a strong advocate for reducing atmospheric emissions as quickly as possible, whatever underlying technologies achieve the goal, and for developing a credible certificate-of-origin scheme to ensure that the clean credentials of every kilogram of hydrogen bought and sold can be verified.
As such, I am working with the federal government to help develop a domestic and global “guarantee of origin” scheme based on numbers, not colours. The existing colour code that refers to blue, green and other colours of hydrogen is emotive rather than focused on the only thing that counts: atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide.
Under the scheme, every tonne of hydrogen would carry a token that details the carbon dioxide emissions associated with its production. Every purchasing country and consumer would be able to make a determination on what is acceptably clean; allowing for a technology‐neutral approach and efficient blending of disparate sources of hydrogen to meet an acceptability threshold. With these reliable schemes in place, there can be full accounting for the clean credentials of the hydrogen.
The release of the national hydrogen strategy gave confidence and visibility to other countries that Australia is a hydrogen player. In the intervening years we have sent a signal to the world that our nation has both the resolve and the expertise to take on this challenge, and we have committed to partnerships with Germany, Japan, Singapore and Britain to increase hydrogen proficiency and supply chains and embrace our collective responsibility to protect our common home.
I firmly believe we can reap emissions reductions and economic benefits from domestic adoption of hydrogen and become the world’s leading hydrogen exporter. But global competition is fierce. We must continue to be ambitious and keep all our options on the table.
State-based initiatives such as the NSW hydrogen strategy will hasten the reduction of our domestic emissions and contribute to supplying the hydrogen that will help other countries reduce their emissions.
Dr Alan Finkel is special adviser to the federal government on low-emissions technology.