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Hydrogen: proving it's more than hype and hot air.

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Media Release The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

19 May 2003 03/091


Australia’s energy leaders and researchers have been challenged to provide a way forward for the transition from a coal-fired to hydrogen-based economy within the next 20 to 30 years.

In his speech to an international hydrogen gathering in Broome today, Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane recognised the cleaner, greener and sustainable features of hydrogen. He called on hydrogen proponents to start selling the advantages and opportunities of moving the nation to hydrogen power.

“We must recognise that our conventional fuel reserves are shrinking, and finite. By 2010 Australia will most likely be importing about 60 per cent of our crude oil. But planning for hydrogen powered future is going to take at least 20 years.”

“Australia has many natural advantages when it comes to developing hydrogen sources and technology, we must be ready to build on and contribute to international research efforts,” said Mr Macfarlane.

Earlier this year the US announced its commitment to a US$1 billion hydrogen pilot plant, a multi-national project to bring the technology to commercialisation. It will turn coal into hydrogen-rich gas which can then be combusted or used in a fuel cell to provide clean electricity.

“Such projects represent a real opportunity for Australia to keep in step with global hydrogen advancement and ensure that our potential as a source and research partner are properly recognised,”said Mr Macfarlane.

“For the next three days we have some of the world’s leading hydrogen authorities here to help map our place in this emerging hydrogen economy. The potential of hydrogen power in Australia is as exciting as the technological challenges are daunting,” he said.

Conference attendees are being asked to feed into a National Hydrogen Study by tackling the issues of hydrogen production, storage and distribution. The study, which is due to be completed later this year, will provide Australia with a strategy for the development of hydrogen.

An interim report on the national study will be provided to conference attendees for comment. Workshops will then refine the strategies presented in the report to identify work that needs to be done if opportunities to develop hydrogen in Australia are to be maximised.

Media Contact: Kirsty Boazman, (02) 6277 7580, Mobile: 0412 171 444

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CMR 03-109