Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said a skilled workforce to install, maintain and repair wind turbines is critical to WA’s future. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)
“It’s very simple and relatively low cost to take coal out of the ground, put it on a ship and send it to Korea or Japan or China, it’s much harder to do the same thing with hydrogen,” he said.
“So using the hydrogen here, to react with the iron ore to make iron and steel may very well be the cost effective thing to do, and there are companies in Australia who are very keen to do that.”
But Mr Wood said the market demand for the “green version” of iron or other critical mineral products like aluminium and lithium was currently modest.
“Getting too far ahead of the investment curve would be a dangerous place to be,” Mr Wood said.
“Governments working with companies to take a very hard-headed assessment of the risk and the opportunity is probably a sensible way forward.”
Hydrogen may give Australia future fuel security
Mr Wood said Australia’s fuel security vulnerability was centred on transport as we had more than enough resources to produce electricity for domestic consumption.
However, hydrogen could be a future resource to bolster the nation’s fuel security for transport, as Australia moved towards electrification to replace petrol and diesel.
Mr Wood said while Australian renewables could be used to power personal vehicles and small commercial vehicles, hydrogen may be a more efficient way to power long distance heavy transport.
Greens leader Adam Bandt, who was also in WA on Tuesday, said while hydrogen was the “fuel of the future”, it had to be green.
Hydrogen can be extracted from water using heat and chemical reactions but the process is highly polluting.
However, if electricity produced by renewable energy is used to split the hydrogen from the water, it can be considered “green”.
“No one around the world is going to want to buy it if it’s made from coal and gas,” he said.
Western Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest recently turned the sod on a hydrogen project in Queensland, saying he wanted to build in his home state but “land tenure” issues prevented this.