China isn’t known for doing things in a small way. Many a rural backwater has been turned into a buzzing industrial hub thanks to its government’s industrial policy. In other words, sheer force of will, backed with a ton of funding. It’s now setting out to do the same with its transport sector, by backing hydrogen fuel cells as the way out of a pollution nightmare. The goal is to decarbonise its trucks and buses, in a bid to reduce the unsightly and unhealthy pollution that is blanketing cities and causing political unrest. China has the world’s largest share of buses, and 310 million motor vehicles.
There are encouraging signs of willingness to address Australia’s energy future. Perhaps ironically, it’s Australia’s seat of government – the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – which has declared its intention to lead the nation with its greenhouse gas emission reduction target. More recently, it has also decided to welcome Australia’s first hydrogen test facility. The test facility, announced in early December, will investigate how existing natural gas pipes could carry hydrogen into homes.
Australia is locked in an energy stalemate. While the technology exists to solve many of our big energy challenges, we lack a clear policy on energy. It is stopping investment in new technologies from growing as much as it could.
The National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is flawed. But not primarily for the reasons that most of its critics have argued, such as its relatively lowball emissions reductions targets for the electricity sector, or the fact it doesn’t represent all the sectors that produce emissions in Australia.
In looking for solutions to a major national problem — the consumption of natural gas for heating — UK policy makers have made an important discovery. One that’s valuable for Australia and many other countries struggling with the question of how to move to a reliable, carbon-free energy economy. This is that hydrogen is a safe and economically viable fuel — even in markets where traditional fossil fuels are not in short supply.
Transforming our global energy future requires a sense of purpose, passion and plenty of perseverance. If you want to help realise a smarter and more sustainable tomorrow, we would like to hear from you.