Australian PM backs new technologies for green future at global Climate Summit

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has assured a global Climate Summit, hosted by President of the United States Joe Biden, that Australia will meet net-zero carbon targets through new technologies.

While adoption of renewable energy sources has soared in recent years – primarily because of the work of the states – Mr Morrison said it’s our advancements in hydrogen and green steel that will achieve net-zero targets.

“Australia is on the pathway to net zero,” he said in his address to the Summit, which was held online on April 23.

“We are investing around $20 billion to achieve ambitious goals that will bring the cost of clean hydrogen, green steel, energy storage and carbon capture to commercial parity.”

The Leaders Summit on Climate Change was an assembly of 40 world leaders invited by Biden ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow. It was held across two days and was live-streamed around the world.

The Prime Minister said our ambition is to produce the cheapest, clean hydrogen in the world at $A2 per kilogram. But while the US, the UK and the European Union have committed to zero emissions by 2050, Mr Morrison would not put a timeframe on when that goal would be achieved.

“For Australia, it is not a question of if or even by when for net-zero, but importantly how,” he said.

Australia’s ‘Hydrogen Valleys’

The Prime Minister pointed to America’s global centre of technological innovation Silicon Valley in San Francisco in his address. Mr Morrison declared that Australia was creating its own series of Hydrogen Valleys to accelerate technologies.

“Our journey to net-zero is being led by world-class pioneering Australian companies like Fortescue, led by Dr Andrew Forrest, Visy, BHP, Rio Tinto, AGL, and so many more of all sizes,” he said.

How green steel will result in fewer emissions 

Total world crude steel production was 1869.9 million tonnes in 2019, and over half of that was produced in China. On average, 1.9 tonnes of carbon is emitted for every ton of steel produced. To achieve a net-zero future, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Hydrogen is produced by splitting water using an electrolyser, which is powered by renewable energy. This is then used in place of coal in the steel-making process, so the only emissions are water. Our country is already on the front foot with this technology, and Origin Energy has signed a significant deal to export this to South Korean steel manufacturer Posco. Arrangements have also been put in place to export to Japan under the HESC.

The Prime Minister’s announcements come after the Australian Hydrogen Council submitted to the Federal Government in August 2020. This submission states that “building the hydrogen economy would require annual investments of [US]$20 to 25 billion for a total of about [US]$280 billion until 2030”. So while Mr Morrison’s announcement is promising, further investment will be required.

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