Finkel backs gas, hydrogen in energy transition

Hydrogen image

In an address to the National Press Club today, Dr Finkel spoke about the challenges the world faced in transitioning to clean energy and discussed the ways Australia can work to lower its emissions output.

“While these [clean energy] technologies are being scaled up, we need an energy companion today that can react rapidly to changes in solar and wind output,” said Dr Finkel.

“An energy companion that is itself relatively low in emissions, and that only operates when needed.

“In the short-term, as the Prime Minister and Minister Angus Taylor have previously stated, natural gas will play that critical role.

“In fact, natural gas is already making it possible for nations to transition to a reliable, and relatively low emissions, electricity supply.”

Dr Finkel said in addition to a mix of renewables and natural gas for electricity supply, hydrogen can be the “hero” for a range of other energy needs, including a feedstock for ammonia or a means to transport clean energy across long distances.

Dr Alan Finkel.

“Because hydrogen operates in a similar way to natural gas, our natural gas generators can be re-configured in the future to run on hydrogen – neatly turning a potential legacy into an added bonus,” he said.

“We truly are at the dawn of a new, thriving industry.

“There’s a nearly $2 trillion global market for hydrogen come 2050, assuming that we can drive the price of producing hydrogen to substantially lower than $2 per kg.”

Dr Finkel’s words were supported by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), which called for swift transition to a clean energy economy.

“The need to transition our energy economy is a matter of urgency, and we should be prepared to seriously consider all safe, low-emissions technologies,” said ATSE President Professor Hugh Bradlow.

“Natural gas will play a role in transitioning to a low-emission economy.

“Hydrogen, hydroelectricity and nuclear energy should also all be in active consideration as companion power generators for solar and wind.

“As carbon dioxide emissions continue to amass in the atmosphere, and as Australia faces the increasingly tangible effects of climate change, ATSE calls for an urgent transition plan.”

Dr Finkel helped release the National Hydrogen Strategy in November 2019, detailing a plan for Australian governments and industry to grow the country’s hydrogen sector and turn the resource into a major energy export by 2030.

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