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Australia and Germany launch joint hydrogen plan

Out-Law News | 18 Jun 2021 | 9:03 am | 2 min. read

Germany and Australia have signed an agreement pledging to work together to strengthen trade in hydrogen.

They plan to invest to build their hydrogen industries, create new opportunities for business and trade and reduce emissions.

 

Australia’s energy minister Angus Taylor, Germany’s minister of economics and technology Peter Altmaier and Germany’s minister of research Anja Karliczek have signed a declaration of intent to establish an "Australia-Germany Hydrogen Accord".

They said the agreement builds on the strengths of the two countries: Australia has enough sun to produce hydrogen in a sustainable way using solar energy, which it wants to export to other countries. Germany has expertise in hydrogen technology and plans to import "significant quantities" of hydrogen in the future. The German-Australian cooperation is aimed at accelerating the import of hydrogen technology from Germany to Australia and then later sustainably produced hydrogen from Australia to Germany. According to Karliczek, the electrolysers that Australia will need to produce hydrogen with the help of solar energy could for example come from Germany.

"This Memorandum of Understanding is another positive signal to German businesses, which are particularly in demand as technology suppliers for hydrogen projects in Australia," said Alice Boldis, an expert on large-scale energy projects at Pinsent Masons.

Angus Taylor said Australia has the right qualities to participate in a global clean hydrogen industry because it has "abundant land and energy resources coupled with an excellent track record and reputation as reliable energy partner".

Energy expert George Varma of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “The collaboration between Australia and Germany will not only open up opportunities for hydrogen trading between the countries, it has the potential to develop a more wholesome trading relationship as green products - products produced using renewable energy - can be produced in Australia and exported to Germany for project development and assist with the reduction of global carbon emissions. Given the challenges with transporting hydrogen currently, this may well be the transitionary step needed to increase hydrogen demand.  The collaboration between Australia and Germany has a great deal of potential and will no doubt benefit both countries.”

Karliczek announced that her ministry wants to provide up to €50 million for the cooperation over a period of three years. The money will be used for the H2 incubator HyGate for applied research. The incubator will help to develop and improve hydrogen technologies and to test them in real conditions. Australia also announced to provide funds for this purpose. In addition, joint projects are planned to promote hydrogen production and hydrogen trade: Altmaier said that with Australian-German 'Hydrogen Hubs', the production of hydrogen on an industrial scale in Australia is to be advanced using German technology. In addition, the two countries plan to examine whether cooperation is also possible within the framework of the new German hydrogen promotion programme H2 Global.

Germany and Australia have been cooperating in the field of hydrogen for some time. Last summer, the two governments announced that they would investigate the establishment of a hydrogen supply chain between their countries as part of a feasibility study. The AustralianSmartEnergyCouncil and the German Energy Agency already entered into a partnership earlier this year to develop a certification system for green hydrogen as well as other climate-neutral fuels.