Australian energy ministers share a vision for a clean, innovative, safe and competitive hydrogen industry that benefits all Australians and is a major global player by 2030. But 2030 is just one milestone on Australia’s hydrogen journey. More exciting possibilities lie beyond it.

Our major energy trading partners have set clear targets as waypoints to becoming ‘hydrogen societies’.

By 2050, Japan alone intends to import up to 10 million tonnes of hydrogen per year.

The Republic of Korea, China, and the United States will have millions of hydrogen vehicles on their roads.

The European Union will be using hydrogen for heating, transport and industrial applications to meet its 2050 target of net zero emissions.

Beyond 2030, the cost of making, storing, moving and using clean hydrogen will become increasingly competitive with other fuels in an energy-hungry world. In a decade, leading energy analysts estimate that in some applications, such as transport, the cost of clean hydrogen will be the same as or even cheaper than using fossil fuels.

Abundant clean hydrogen will present the opportunity to decarbonise sectors currently dependent on coal, gas and liquid fossil fuels, to revitalise old industries and start new ones. It could give Australian manufacturers of energy-intensive products such as steel a comparative market advantage because they will be able to use low-cost hydrogen near where it is produced.

Clean ammonia will be increasingly produced at large scale, including as an input for sustainable fertiliser.

Gas networks and appliances could be converted to 100% hydrogen, allowing households and businesses access to zero emissions heating and cooking, without losing the convenience to which Australians are accustomed.

Mining vehicles, long-distance trucks and trains could be early adopters of hydrogen at scale, reducing our need for imported oil and thereby enhancing Australia’s fuel security. By avoiding harmful local air pollution, Australians would also enjoy cleaner air.

Today, the cargo and container ships ploughing the oceans are responsible for a significant proportion of global emissions of carbon dioxide and pollutants. Beyond 2030, these giant ships could be powered by clean ammonia made from hydrogen, or powered directly by compressed or liquefied hydrogen.

High above the land and oceans, it is possible that hydrogen or its derivatives will be powering long distance aeroplanes, helping to decarbonise the most challenging area of transport.

Back on land, hydrogen stored in giant underground formations could provide seasonal storage to improve reliability in our major electricity networks.

Large solar and wind generation facilities for hydrogen production located in remote regions may be connected to our electricity networks by long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines. They could provide our electricity systems with a cost-effective adjunct to battery storage and pumped hydro storage.

In the long term, the cost of shipping hydrogen will be substantially reduced. Where it is shipped as liquefied hydrogen, the significant energy required for liquefication will be supplied by low-cost renewables. Where the hydrogen is shipped as ammonia, the efficiency of turning the ammonia back into hydrogen at the import terminal will be enhanced by breakthrough separation processes, possibly based on membrane technology already in development at the CSIRO.