Australia’s hydrogen industry celebrates another year of milestones at their annual conference.

13 December, 2022

(L to R) Claire Johnson, Advisory Board Member, PDC Machines; Scott Nargar, Senior Manager, Future Mobility and Government Affairs, Hyundai Motor Company Australia and Tim Meyers, Country Manager – Australia, PDC Machines at the Australian Hydrogen Conference.

This month, the Australian hydrogen industry came together to celebrate a big year of hydrogen developments at the Australian Hydrogen Conference in Perth.

With over 700 attendees, the conference is regarded as the must attend national event for Australia’s emerging hydrogen sector.

Its aim? To get the industry moving and aligned by bringing together energy and transport leaders from across the sector to explore the latest projects, challenges, opportunities, and lessons.

Collectively, the participants have a shared appetite to shape the future of the rapidly expanding sector across the nation and overseas, and importantly position Australia as a leading hydrogen player.

Hyundai was delighted to attend the conference and jointly host a stand at the event with PDC Machines, a US-based hydrogen technology company and the manufacturer selected for our hydrogen refuelling facility in Sydney currently under development.

Together, Hyundai and PDC are working to increase the number of hydrogen refuelling stations and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in Australia, and so the conference was the opportune time to discuss with new and familiar faces how we can pick up the pace as an industry.

So, what were our key takeaways from the event? Primarily, that the shift from talking about hydrogen to implementing hydrogen projects is well and truly underway but also that the needs of the sector are rapidly evolving. We explore some of the leading themes of the event below.

Partnering with Government to drive the hydrogen sector.

Hyundai’s Scott Nargar with the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon Mark McGowan MP

The conference was well attended by Western Australia’s political class, including the Premier, the Hon Mark McGowan MLA and the Minister for Hydrogen Industry, the Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC as well as government representatives from almost every Australian state and territory.

Together, they presented the latest updates from their respective jurisdictions and how they intend on advancing their hydrogen plans.

What was clear was that governments are a central pillar in getting the Australian hydrogen sector progressing. In particular, getting the policy and regulation right and ensuring it doesn’t stifle industry progress was a key talking point.

While interstate rivalry is always present, it was evident that states and territories wish to work collaboratively to remove barriers and help the hydrogen industry to scale up and drive costs down.

Shifting conversations from education to implementation.

The Hyundai NEXO on display at the Australian Hydrogen Conference

When displaying the Hyundai NEXO at conference, conversations at the stand are typically focused on explaining how the car works. Australian audiences are becoming increasingly familiar with FCEVs however and so the discussion is shifting to how do we get more hydrogen powered cars on the road.

Many companies are looking to incorporate FCEVs into their own fleets and so are seeking advice on how to achieve this plus get the infrastructure in place to support these vehicles.

And so, the discussions are becoming more strategic around topics such as fleet replacement, refuelling network roll out and hydrogen sourcing demonstrating the transition to the practical challenges facing the sector today versus the theoretical ones of only a few years ago.

Hyundai was pleased to provide guidance and advice in response to these discussions taking place at our stand and connect like-minded companies looking for partners to act upon opportunities.

Real world demonstrations well underway.

The week of the conference saw two important milestones for WA in its journey towards becoming a hydrogen superpower – firstly, the opening its first hydrogen refueller and secondly, blending renewable hydrogen into the natural gas network.

These achievements mean WA has hit all four of its 2022 targets on time, following the commissioning of the Denham hydrogen plant in October and the commencement of construction on the joint Yara/ENGIE Yuri renewable hydrogen to ammonia project in the Pilbara.

The conference was an opportunity to celebrate these accomplishments and to take stock of how far the industry has come in translating enthusiasm into real world action that will set WA on the pathway towards major hydrogen player status.

Getting infrastructure projects up and running is one of the best ways to stimulate wider industry development. These early projects can trigger further investment in new projects, and the ecosystem will start to grow.

We are particularly looking forward to refuelling the NEXO at the new refuelling station, which is based at ATCO’s facility in Jandakot, in the new year and hope that this facility is a springboard for the development of many more across the state.

An economic opportunity to be awakened.

Finally, the lasting message of the conference centred on Australia’s renewable superpower potential and how we can exploit this on the global stage.

Given Australia’s rich natural resource base, its extensive history in mining, educated workforce and abundant renewable energy, the country is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the significant economic benefits of the clean energy transition.

Several presentations and many discussions focused on how Australia capitalise on its once in a lifetime opportunity to lead the global energy transition through the supply of energy in the form of hydrogen as well as critical minerals and technologies.

The conclusion that several presenters came to is that Australia needs a national strategy to ensure we have the settings in place to make the most of this opportunity. The government is obviously listening as plans are underway to develop such a strategy for the country.

In summary, the conference was a great opportunity to learn more about the latest policy, technology and project announcements from WA and across Australia – and engage directly with those companies living and breathing hydrogen projects every day.

As a founding member of the Australian Hydrogen Council, we look forward to many more events like this in the coming years, and most importantly, to use these occasions to drive greater collaboration across industry, particularly for hydrogen mobility.