Global investment in research and development into hydrogen technology will need to increase almost four-fold in the next seven years for the fuel to be a major contributor to 2030 net zero emission targets, a new national report has found.
The new report, out this week, compiled by seven researchers at the CSIRO and issued by the federal department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water found that 88 per cent of cumulative emissions reductions to 2050 will need to come from emerging technologies that are still currently under development, "including hydrogen technologies".
At present around US$25 billion of public money is spent on hydrogen innovation but this would need to increase to US$90 billion by the end of the decade in order to push the cost of generating and transporting hydrogen down to make it an economically feasible alternative fuel.
The department compiled the report to examine the priorities and activities on hydrogen development across 10 selected countries, including Germany and Japan.
It found that in the short term (to 2030) countries "will likely still be reliant on producing hydrogen from fossil fuels and possibly methane pyrolysis to meet demand".
"However, many are prioritising the development and deployment of clean hydrogen (such from renewables and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage).
"Clean hydrogen is likely the area with the most sustainable long-run potential for R&D collaborations and supply chain development," the report found.
The report found that global innovation will be required to cover significant gaps in several key areas including:
- Hydrogen co-firing in coal or natural gas plants
- Electrolytic hydrogen used for steelmaking and chemicals production including ammonia
- Heavy road transport
- Ammonia and methanol use in shipping
- Hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels in aviation
Rising global demand is seen as the important catalyst for further investment in research and development as "the clear shortfall in commitments points to the need for concrete policies to be developed, which support implementation, particularly focused on creating demand".
In comparing Australia's hydrogen strategy with that of other nations on, the report found that progress priority was part of our roadmap for industry generally, steel-making, in the chemical industry, the power industry and in heavy vehicles but unlike the UK and the US, Australia had no strategy for aviation and other transport.
The top five countries leading hydrogen research, by virtue of the patents produced, were China, Japan, US, South Korea and Germany. Most of the research is focused on the electrolysis process (in which hydrogen is the feedstock for generating electricity).
USA leads the world in funding committed to hydrogen research, followed by Germany, France, Japan, the European Union and south Korea.
Around the world, 359 hydrogen projects have been announced, with roughly US$500 billion committed to commercial projects, although most were seen as at an "immature" stage.