Trade relationships between Australia and Japan are about to get a boost with a $350 million experiment going on the floor.
The countries will soon exchange knowledge and services in creating a new export industry, where they undertake “the uninitiated so far at this scale” project. They will convert the world’s most polluting fuel, coal into a clean hydrogen and export it from Australia to Japan in a liquified state.
Coal has been lying in Victoria, waiting to be turned into something that can be useful to the economy, after coal generated electric power plants were shut down as Australia went completely renewable, bringing pollution to heel. Of course, the project is not without its challenges. The use of mining coal in converting from coal to hydrogen and the disposing of carbon dioxide as a by product will be a vexation to environmental conservationists.
The coal could be finally put to some use after coming to its hydrogen state, also giving Australia another lucrative export channel, and a source of power for vehicles and industry.
But if the trial works, it could be the start of a major new industry which will displace some of the coal Australia currently exports with hydrogen, a fuel gaining support as a source of power for vehicles and industry.
The Australian government and the Victorian state government have also signed up for a process which will start with the production of hydrogen at an old power station in the coal-rich Latrobe Valley. The hydrogen industry is predicted to become a big cash cow by 2020, mining out a $2 trillion if figures by industry lobby group, the Hydrogen Council stand testimony.