December 20 (Renewables Now) - The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on Wednesday launched a AUD-20-million (USD 15m/EUR 13m) funding round for early-stage research and development (R&D) into hydrogen, which it says could be a way for Australia to export renewable energy.
The deadline for applications is February 28, 2018.
Rich in solar and wind resources, Australia could become a "superpower" in renewable energy exports, building on existing relationships with and growing demand for low-carbon energy in countries like Japan, South Korea and China, said ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht. Electricity can be converted into hydrogen through electrolysis.
"The potential for hydrogen to be a carrier of renewable energy is substantial, which is why ARENA will be looking to fund projects from the production of hydrogen all the way to transporting and end-use," Frischknecht explained. According to him hydrogen will play a much larger role in the renewable energy sector both in Australia and globally.
Currently Australia exports about three quarters of the energy sources it produces in the form of coal and gas, he said.
ARENA sees a possibility for dedicated renewables for export. "The capability to supply renewable hydrogen at a competitive price is likely to lead to investment throughout the rest of the supply chain, including dedicated renewables for export," Frischknecht said.
There is a significant scope for cost reductions across the supply chain, including hydrogen production, conversion to a carrier for transport, storage or export, and transformation into energy at point-of-use, the agency says.
The funding round follows a request for information (RFI) held by ARENA in September, which received 45 responses.
(AUD 1 = USD 0.767/EUR 0.648)