Australia as a hydrogen supplier

February 25, 2022

Australia could be an interesting supplier of hydrogen energy for Germany. This is the initial assessment of the HySupply project, which has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research since the end of 2020. It is led by FHI Director Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl and BDI Deputy Managing Director Holger Lösch.

The aim of HySupply is to investigate under which conditions the import of renewable hydrogen or hydrogen-based energy sources from Australia to Germany or Europe can succeed. "With hydrogen, we can pack the energy of the Australian sun into tankers and bring it to Germany," says project leader Prof. Dr. Schlögl. "Now we are investigating how this can be done on a large scale and over long distances." A delegation trip to Australia in May is also planned for this purpose.

Together with acatech - German Academy of Science and Engineering, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) has been coordinating the German project group since December 2020, which consists of a number of renowned experts from science and industry. On the German side, the project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). On the Australian side, the consortium is led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) together with Baringa Partners and Deloitte and funded by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The results of the work in the first years are already providing key insights that are of great importance for the development of the German-Australian supply chain:

  • Australia can produce and export many times its own energy needs in hydrogen due to its favourable natural conditions, experience in exporting energy carriers and extensive investments. Germany is dependent on imports of hydrogen to meet future demand and has the necessary technologies, especially for the production of hydrogen and synthesis gases.
  • The preliminary cost of producing renewable hydrogen in Australia is currently between €2-6 per kg, depending on location. The costs could potentially be reduced to 1.3 €/kg if both the investment costs for electrolysers decrease, electricity becomes cheaper and the investment risk is minimised.
  • The distance to Australia plays a minor role and the costs for ship transport are moderate, as the share in the total costs is between 5-11% depending on the transport option (ammonia, methanol, liquid hydrogen, LOHC).

By the end of the project in autumn 2022, a joint roadmap is to be drawn up based on the preliminary work, outlining which measures need to be implemented by when and by whom so that the supply chain can be realised in 2030. The insights gained in the study are to have a universal character and will thus provide important preliminary work for other conceivable hydrogen partnerships.

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