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Hydrogen better than 'hot rocks', but nuclear remains on the sidelines


The South Australian member for Grey has gushed at the prospect of establishing a Hydrogen Hub on Eyre Peninsula, most likely at Whyalla, telling FlowNews24 the proposal holds greater hope than geothermal 'hot rocks'.

Rowan Ramsey MP said in a statement on Wednesday that Prime Minister Morrison's latest announcement of an extra $275m to expand the Hydrogen Hub program would deliver benefits in his electorate.


Mr Ramsey's coalition colleague, former resources minister, now Queensland senate backbencher Matt Canavan, was more circumspect about hydrogen's potential, telling FlowNews24 on Thursday:

"I’m not anti-hydrogen...when I was Minister for Resources I provided significant extra funding and support for hydrogen. In saying that, I think we have got to be very careful that we don’t put all our eggs in one basket.
“There are a lot of challenges to make hydrogen work.
“The risks we face right now, with conflict potentially over the next ten years over Taiwan or other Chinese aggression in our region, we’ve got to be careful not put all our eggs in the basket of what may work. The cost of them not coming off could be absolutely dire for our nation and our national security.
“We need to be a little bit more resources into things we know can work...like a clean coal power station. We can build gas fire power, we know that works.”
“Even I’d say nuclear, that should be on the agenda, nuclear as well.”

Mr Ramsey said on Thursday that he supports nuclear energy but observed that advancing that form of energy generation required bipartisan support:

“I believe it’s been used as a tool of division...the water is so muddy, it’s difficult to have a sensible conversation about nuclear power.
“I am fundamentally a supporter of nuclear energy, I think in Australia it is missing from our energy make-up - but it is a political argument that can only be put forward by the left of politics and we will support them.
“If we put it forward, they will cut us off at the knees.
“One thing you do need if you’re going to build nuclear industry of any sort, is rock solid bipartisan support.”

On hydrogen, Mr Ramsey highlighted that the Marshall Liberal SA government has already announced it will invest in upgrading Port Bonython jetty and support establishing a 75MW electrolyser. In his Wednesday statement, the member for Grey said:

“This is exciting news especially when we consider the joint announcement Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Steven Marshall made in the Clare Valley on Sunday which confirmed a $1bn partnership to invest in technologies to provide cleaner, cheaper and more reliable electricity.
“The Premier named hydrogen production, use and export as one of the priorities for this pool of money and it will give them tremendous flexibility to ensure they can assist in bringing the previously announced H2U project to fruition.”
“Whyalla has so much working in its favour, already with abundant and expanding renewable energy generation in the region, it has good connections to the gas and electricity grids and a port capable of being utilised to export hydrogen in an ammonia form. Additionally, Whyalla has a steel plant and with the production of low carbon steel being one of the five goals listed in our Low Emissions Technology Statement we can build a very strong case.”

When asked about the prospects of hydrogen-supported steel-making or so-called 'green steel', Senator Canavan said:

"I think its a fair way away.
"I can't sit here and say I - 100 per cent for sure - that in 10 to 15 years time that we will be using hydrogen steel or hydrogen for transport et cetera - I don't know."