Eighty-five years on from the Hindenburg zeppelin's final flight, and the hydrogen industry is again looking to set things on fire - this time in Tasmania.
All disaster jokes aside, hydrogen has come a long way since the 1930s, and is now seen as a safe fuel that could soon help free Australia from the grip of polluting fuels like coal, petrol and diesel.
Produced by running large amounts of electricity through clean water - a process known as electrolysis - the state government believes hydrogen could become especially important for the Tasmanian economy.
It has launched a hydrogen strategy and earmarked at least $50 million to support the development of the sector as well as a production hub at Bell Bay, north of Launceston.
Uniquely among Australian states, Tasmania generates most of its electricity from hydro dams.
Hydrogen produced with it could be as much as 15 per cent cheaper than mainland alternatives, according to estimates from Hydro Tasmania.
The hydrogen projects likely to get off the ground first are much smaller in scale, such as Countrywide Renewable Hydrogen's proposal to build a 10MW plant in Bell Bay.
According to Countrywide managing director, Geoffrey Drucker, his company will make a final decision over the $60 million project by the end of this year, and - if the project progresses - he is targeting first production in mid-2024.
He said about 40 per cent of the cost would be funded from the balance sheet of his parent company, ASX-listed ReNu Energy, and the remainder split between debt and government funding.
"What that split would be would be totally up to those in government to decide how much they are prepared to support the establishment of a hydrogen industry in Tasmania," Mr Drucker said.
The Bell Bay project is also dependent on getting cheap electricity, he said.
"We expect ... that we would be able to secure a price around $60 per MWh," he said.
Minister for Energy and Renewables, Guy Barnett, did not answer questions seeking comment about potential electricity prices for projects such as the one proposed by Countrywide.
But he said the government wanted to make Tasmania an industry leader.
"[We] have committed $50 million to a Tasmanian Renewable Hydrogen Industry Development Fund to help develop the sector," Mr Barnett said.
"We are pleased that the Australian Government has committed $70 million to further develop the national green Hydrogen Hub at Bell Bay."
Mr Drucker said the company's other Tasmanian project was a smaller hydrogen plant near Hobart, which would sell hydrogen directly into the city's gas grid.
But both plants would initially market hydrogen to Tasmania's critical transport sector.
Fuel cell trucks have only recently come on to the market around the world.
One manufacturer, Hyundai Trucks, said it will phase out production of its diesel combustion trucks by 2028, moving to a mix of battery and hydrogen fuel cell alternatives.
It is also aiming to reduce the cost of fuel cell trucks to parity with battery electric by 2030.
Mr Drucker said Countrywide is meeting with the state's transport companies, including SRT Logistics, the Hobart-based firm that runs a fleet of about 160 refrigerated trucks.
Chief executive officer Robert Miller said he was keen to look at alternative options after the last six months, when diesel fuel prices increased by as much as 30 per cent.
"Our customers would be very supportive of anything we can do in that space, so at end of the day we are always look at being greener," he said.
Mr Miller noted there is much work to do to make hydrogen viable options for his company.
"We operate in a capital-intensive industry, and it is a very low-margin business, so small percentage cost input increases have a big effect on the bottom line."
Michelle Harwood, executive director of the Tasmanian Transport Association, said she was also monitoring developments in the hydrogen and battery truck sectors.
"We know different solutions work differently. In heavy haulage - there's a point at which batteries are not as feasible, and you move more into the hydrogen model," she said.
Mr Miller said he believed that within 15 years, he would still be running diesel trucks - but with a mix of battery and fuel cell trucks as well.
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