Blending hydrogen with piped natural gas, piloting power generation in remote areas and developing hydrogen fuel cells for ships and trains are some of the ideas contained in a new Hunter hydrogen "road map".
The Hunter Hydrogen Taskforce has issued the plan to detail the steps the region must take to establish itself as the centre of Australia's emerging hydrogen industry.
The taskforce, a University of Newcastle-led collaboration with the CSIRO and industry, training and advocacy groups, has followed up the Prime Minister's visit by publishing the Hunter Hydrogen Roadmap 2021-2040.
The plan sets out three phases of action, "prepare and pilot" from 2021 to 2025, "deploy and scale" from 2025 to 2035, and "prosper" from 2035 onwards.
It proposes setting up an entity to oversee the plan, naming a hydrogen "ambassador", developing a Hunter hydrogen brand, establishing a research demonstration site and starting an annual hydrogen conference, all in the next four years.
This first stage would also assess research opportunities, end-use demand and training requirements.
The second stage would include scaling the demonstration site into a "sustained model" and actively promoting the region as a hydrogen trade and investment centre.
The final stage would include "cutting edge R&D, innovation and commercialisation of new technologies" leading to successful exports.
Hydrogen, which is referred to as green hydrogen if it is produced with renewable energy, can be piped into houses and businesses for heating and cooking and used to power vehicles.
The Hunter has a history of producing and handling hydrogen to make derivative products such as ammonia, fertilisers and explosives.
Taskforce member and Committee for the Hunter chief executive Alice Thompson said the road map identified "strategic enablers".
The Hunter's established research, energy and port infrastructure gave it a "head start ... but we need to act now to maintain and grow our competitive advantage or risk being left behind," Ms Thompson said.
"We know the development of a Hunter hydrogen industry will need more than projects and technology.
"It requires brokering between suppliers and users, workforce development, regulatory reform, new standards, safety training, complementary policy and programs, community support, investment concierge and promotion."
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