Hydrogen hype on the path to a net-zero future

An artist's impression of the planned Hydrogen Hub.
The Victorian Hydrogen Hub will help to create sustainable solutions. Environment editor Angus Delaney reports.

Hydrogen can help advance Australia towards a net-zero future if clean energy sources are used to produce it.

Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute Director Sally McArthur said it wasn’t a complete method of achieving net-zero emissions, but “it’s part of the puzzle”.

This year, Swinburne University was awarded a $10 million grant by the State Government to build the Victorian Hydrogen Hub for research and production.

The Hydrogen Hub plans to “advance a net-zero emission future” and “support sustainable manufacturing processes [and] the ability to store clean energy from renewable sources”. 

Hydrogen hype on the path to a net-zero future
Professor Sally McArthur talks to Wind Down host Loren Botica.

Prof McArthur said there was a growing movement to produce clean hydrogen.

“There are a lot of plants going on around solar farms that would then be used to create hydrogen,” she said.

Prof McArthur said both levels of government were helping scientists make advancements in hydrogen technology to make cleaner energy. “The government is doing what they can in terms of funding the research,” Prof McArthur said.

“[In relation to legislation] it’s just a matter of making sure those regulations aren’t prohibitive and that they are doing what they’re intended to do.”

The Federal Government last week committed $500 million to the production of clean hydrogen, aiming to establish world-class hydrogen and carbon storage projects.

Prof McArthur said hydrogen could help in lowering emissions if people collaborated and shared knowledge. “It’s about people, it’s about product, it’s about processes, and those three things have to come together,” she said.

This isn’t a STEM problem, it’s a societal problem that is solved by all of us coming together and all of our knowledge coming together.

Prof McArthur said hydrogen is produced through a process of electrolysis. “You take water, and you apply electricity and break it down to hydrogen and oxygen.”

“We would really love that electricity to be produced by a green mean,” she said, but the hub would not necessarily use green energy sources to produce the hydrogen.

“We’re interested in understanding the processes in using it.”

For the full audio interview with Professor McArthur, plus a full run down of the week’s news, listen to The Standard’s The Wind Down podcast.

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