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The Federal Opposition has launched a $1 billion National Hydrogen Plan to supercharge Australia's renewable energy industry.

Labor believes hydrogen is an emerging industry that has huge potential to deliver significant economic, employment, energy and environmental benefits for Australia.

Hydrogen gas is an energy source that can be produced through the process of electrolysis using renewable energy, meaning it can leverage Australia’s world-class renewable energy to make much cleaner hydrogen competitively.

As the global demand for hydrogen surges to an expected $215 billion market by 2022, Australia is uniquely placed to benefit from the development of this new, job-generating industry.

Analysis by ACIL Allen projects that hydrogen exports alone could be worth $10 billion in 20 years, and create 16,000 new blue-collar jobs – mainly in regional areas.

Most of the benefits of hydrogen development will be in regional Australia. For example, the deep sea water ports of Gladstone and Newcastle are well placed to support a hydrogen export industry.

While benefiting the nation as a whole, regional Queensland will be the big winner from Labor’s plan.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, launched a six-point plan which includes $1 billion for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to support clean hydrogen development. Labor plans to double CEFC's capital by $10 billion.

Secondly, invest up to $90 million of unallocated funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to support research, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment of hydrogen technologies.

Establish a $10 million ARENA funding round for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure around the nation, from within ARENA’s unallocated funding.

Invest $40 million of unallocated funding from the CEFC Clean Energy Innovation Fund to target hydrogen technologies and businesses that have passed the research and development stage.

Implement regulatory reforms that will help the industry develop and prosper, including reforms to support the use of existing gas pipelines for hydrogen, reforms to support the shipping of hydrogen, reforms to better support the storage of CO2 from blue and brown hydrogen production, as well as other reforms to support hydrogen use and production.

Finally, establish the National Hydrogen Innovation Hub in Gladstone with an initial investment of $3 million.

“This will kick-start early commercialisation of hydrogen technologies, provide a hub for investment and research agencies, and provide opportunities to leverage LNG infrastructure to support hydrogen exports,” Shorten said.

“A Shorten Labor Government will make Gladstone the hydrogen capital of Australia.”

The latest global research shows that clean energy is booming. In a report released last week, Mercom Capital Group, said corporate funding in 2018 was directed at battery storage, smart grid, and the energy efficiency sectors .

The global clean energy research firm said a total of $2.8 billion in VC funding was raised for these sectors in 2018 compared to $1.5 billion in 2017.

In 2018, VC funding into battery storage companies increased by 19 per cent to $850 million in 49 deals compared to $714 million raised in 30 deals in 2017, the report said.

Total corporate funding, including debt and public market financing, increased to $1.3 billion in 2018 compared to $890 million in 2017.

Lithium-ion based battery technology companies received the most funding with $236 million followed by energy storage systems companies with $193 million.

Smart Grid companies raised $530 million in VC funding in 29 deals in 2018, a 26 per cent increase compared to the $422 million raised in 45 deals in 2017. Total corporate funding, including debt and public market financing, came to $1.8 billion in 33 deals, compared to $1.2 billion in 50 deals in 2017.

VC funding for Energy Efficiency companies jumped to $1.5 billion in 23 deals in 2018 compared to $384 million in 38 deals in 2017.

Total corporate funding, including debt and public market financing, reached more than $1.7 billion in 2018, compared to $3.3 billion in 2017.

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