Future potential of Hydrogen

Future potential of Hydrogen

12 Oct 2017, 11:10 AM - 12:30 PM

Room 213, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
English (Australia)

Chair: Attilio Pigneri, CEO, Hydrogen Utility


Insight into future Australian hydrogen projects

Attilio Pigneri, CEO, Hydrogen Utility


Renewable hydrogen: decarbonising solution for the transport and fuel sectors

Filip Smeets, Managing Director On-site Generation, Hydrogenics  Europe N.V.

Power-to-gas provides a route for channelling substantial amounts of renewable energy to sectors that have been, until now, dependent on fossil energy sources - as required for meeting adopted climate goals. Power-to-gas also introduces a systemic flexibility resource which can significantly improve the operating conditions of needed dispatchable power generation by reducing the magnitude of load variations related to changing weather, while also decreasing curtailment of wind or solar power generation. 

Furthermore, Power-to-gas can help maintain local balance between power generation and consumption where distributed power generation is added to the distribution grid, hence allowing to avoid power grid expansion for absorbing excess production. 

The main condition for realising this potential is deployment ramp-up and continued scale-up. It is therefore essential to identify particular applications and associated conditions of implementation where this deployment could be market-driven already in the short term, considering also the policy environment. 

Green hydrogen in refineries is a promising means to reduce the greenhouse gas emission intensity of established transportation fuels in the short term, and a potential option to meet the requirements of the EU Fuel Quality Directive. Refineries’ net hydrogen demand –today typically provided via steam methane reforming of natural gas – is to be supplied from green hydrogen from renewable electricity via water electrolysis by 2025. 

With this process, a typical French and German refinery can reduce greenhouse gas emissions ’gate-to-gate’ by 14.1% and 7.2% respectively compared to today. In absolute terms, this is equivalent to the reduction of 1.33 and 1.50 million tons of CO2eq per year with just 20 refineries, making this option highly effective. Indeed, this is a significant contribution to the ~10 Mt/yr CO2eq emissions reduction that needs to be achieved in 2020 versus today to comply with the EU Fuel Quality Directive both in France and in Germany. 


Renewable energy export opportunities for Australia with hydrogen

Sarb Giddey, Leader of Electrochemical Energy Systems Team at CSIRO Energy, CSIRO

Australia currently uses 200 TWh of electricity per annum (from ~50 GW installed capacity) in the National Electricity Market (NEM) compared to a total potential of 86,000 TWh (25,000 GW capacity) per annum from Australian renewable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, wave energy and biomass). Thus, even if Australia fulfilled all its electricity needs from RE, Australia would still have an enormous potential to export RE to countries lean in RE sources such as Japan, South Korea, where electricity at present is produced by nuclear power plants or imported fossil fuels and the renewable energy intensity is low. 

With continuous improvement to RE based electricity generation technologies, and subsequent reduction in prices, it makes sense to explore methods of exporting RE from regions of high solar intensity such as Western Australia, and regions of high wind intensity such as South Australia in the form of a transportable and commercially viable commodity. The liquid fuels with high energy density such as liquid hydrogen, methanol and liquid ammonia, if produced by utilising RE sources can be shipped overseas, and can be converted back to the fuel of choice based on the application. All these transportable fuels use hydrogen as a feedstock that can be produced from electrolysis of water with electricity from RE sources. Liquid hydrogen though offers advantage of easy reconversion to gaseous hydrogen for distributed or transport (fuel cell based power generation and vehicles) applications, but the infrastructure for its shipping overseas is almost non-existent. On the other hand methanol and liquid ammonia conversion back to hydrogen (if not used directly for application) is somewhat energy consuming step, but the infrastructure including handling and shipping regulations for their overseas transport already is in place. 

This presentation will discuss the pros and cons of different transportable fuels produced from RE sources in terms of technology readiness of synthesis / reconversion technologies, energy conversion efficiencies and commercial viability.


  • Attilio Pigneri



    Hydrogen Utility

  • Filip Smeets


    Managing Director On-site Generation

    Hydrogenics Europe N.V.

    Filip Smeets is Managing Director of the Hydrogenics’ Belgian based On-Site Generation (OSG) business, a world-wide leading provider of hydrogen...

  • Sarb Giddey


    Leader of Electrochemical Energy Systems Team at CSIRO Energy


    Dr Sarb Giddey is currently Leader of the Electrochemical Energy Systems Team at CSIRO Energy. He joined CSIRO in 1999 and has over 20 years R & D...

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