Hydrogen and Climate: Trojan Horse or Golden Goose

by Tory Bridges and Richie Merzian

The development of hydrogen energy has been promoted as a lower-emissions alternative to Australian coal and gas exports. However, there is a significant risk that the promise of hydrogen as a low-carbon alternative, for domestic use and export, could backfire. The development of Australia’s hydrogen industry could be used as a proverbial Trojan horse, to provide a new lease of life for fossil fuels through the production of hydrogen.

The Government is in a position to regulate and guide the industry over the next fifty years. Green hydrogen presents Australia with a potential zero-carbon energy source for domestic and international use. The Government should avoid past mistakes and prevent hydrogen being used as a vehicle for the extension or even expansion of fossil fuels. 

Recent research suggests that large-scale renewable hydrogen might be cost-competitive with fossil-fuel based hydrogen within the next five years if relatively modest government incentives are implemented.

A commitment to renewable hydrogen would help to diversify Australia’s exports, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, create a future-proofed and resilient national hydrogen industry, contribute to long-term economic prosperity and yield genuine greenhouse gas reductions.

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