The University of NSW (Sydney) has announced a partnership in hydrogen technologies with the Providence Asset Group (PAG) to transform university research into real-world, commercial products.
As part of the partnership UNSW Sydney and PAG have founded the Hydrogen Energy Research Centre (HERC) to support Australia’s vision to become a major player in the global hydrogen market. Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy was published in November 2019, with the federal government announcing plans for annual hydrogen exports to reach $10 billion by 2040.
UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Nicholas Fisk said Australia has a huge competitive advantage over other countries in implementing hydrogen for green energy storage, and UNSW has major capability through its talented investigators, research and development, and patent-protected intellectual property.
“Together with Providence, HERC is set to integrate electrolysis, storage and fuel cells, to translate for both domestic and export markets,” he said.
UNSW Engineering Professor Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou, an expert in hydrogen storage technologies, will lead the new centre, in which industry participation will be integral for translating new hydrogen technologies into commercial production.
Prof. Aguey-Zinsou said that while universities are very good at fundamental research they haven’t traditionally been so good at developing products through to market launch.
As a result HERC will build a full innovation ecosystem where industry partners will be deeply engaged with research academics at every step of the commercial process.
UNSW produces world-leading research in hydrogen production, storage and use. Its specialties include fuel cell technologies, power conversion, advanced manufacturing, recycling and electronics. HERC will combine this expert knowledge with industry partners in a new ecosystem that will include:
an applied research and development, prototyping and testing lab – to promote agile product development and support global clients in their transition to using hydrogen products;
a production hub aimed at increasing the uptake of hydrogen products – including smallscale manufacturing, testing, certification and validation infrastructure;
an experience centre – to engage investors, customers and partners, and a training facility to upskill the workforce.
Work is already being done to identify where skills are needed in relation to the handling, distribution, and safety management of hydrogen at the trade level.
Australian Industry Standards (AIS) is currently working with the Australian Hydrogen Council and initiating industry engagement strategies to identify and document skills needed to harness hydrogen technology.
At the same time, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) released the Clean Energy at Work report this month to identify jobs in the renewable energy sector.
It is the largest study of current and projected employment in the renewable energy industry in Australia, covering small-scale rooftop solar, large-scale solar and wind, hydro and pumped hydro, battery storage and the associated supply chains.
It found that the renewable energy industry, which currently employs over 25,000 workers, could generate 44,000 jobs by 2025.
It also projects 70 per cent of renewable energy jobs could be in rural and regional Australia by 2035.