Guest contribution by Eric Worrall
The Sydney Morning Herald believes Australian Scott Morrison is making a huge mistake by ignoring the imminent drop in fossil fuel prices due to inexpensive green hydrogen.
A climate crisis looms for Morrison as the world looks to Australia for action
By Marian Wilkinson
July 12, 2021 – 8:02 a.m.
Since last December, Scott Morrison has hit a net-zero target by 2050. But he’s under serious pressure from Australia’s key allies to set a credible 2030 target in Glasgow. Morrison wasn’t ready for that.
Morrison’s determination to stick to Australia’s weak, increasingly implausible 2030 target was brought into the international spotlight at the Biden climate summit in April. The Prime Minister was one of 40 world leaders, including Xi Jinping, who attended the virtual gathering. It was designed for the United States to take a leading role in the global climate negotiations, and in its opening remarks Biden has made it absolutely clear that he wants deep global emissions reductions by 2030. “This is the decade where we must make decisions to avoid the worst effects of a climate crisis,” said Biden. “We have to try to raise the temperature of the earth to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
“It is hard to imagine that the United States will win long-term strategic competition with China if we cannot lead the renewable energy revolution.“Blinken told reporters. “At the moment we are falling behind. China is the largest producer and exporter of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles. It holds nearly a third of the world’s renewable energy patents. If we don’t catch up, America will miss the opportunity to shape the world’s climate future to reflect our interests and values, and we will lose countless jobs for the American people. “
Australia risks being overrun in this clean energy race. If green hydrogen becomes competitive with natural gas by the end of the decade, the oil and gas industry will respond with price cuts and Australian liquefied natural gas prices will come down. As the chairman of Fortescue Metals, Twiggy Forrest, colorfully put it in his Boyer lecture, the result will be “like a knife fight in a telephone booth”.
For now, the Morrison administration is making a strategic bet that the energy transition will not happen anytime soon. She does not believe that China, let alone India, will be able to radically change course in this decade. This will put the 1.5-degree plans out of reach and dampen enthusiasm in developed countries for ambitious emissions reduction targets.
Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/crunch-time-looming-for-morrison-on-climate-as-the-world-looks-to-australia-to- act -20210706-p587dc.html
Natural gas – you drill a hole in the ground and catch the gas flowing out.
Green hydrogen, you build expensive solar systems, use unrivaled electricity to crack water, collect and compress the hydrogen. Or you can use steam reforming, in which water mixed with coal or natural gas is heated and pressurized to such an extent that it burns, releasing vast amounts of CO2 that have to be captured somehow.
And then there’s the difficulty of dealing with pure hydrogen – the cost of containing a gas with molecules so small that it can only be contained in pipes of high specifications, the risk of handling a gas that ignites easily under exceptional conditions , the risk of working with a gas whose flame burns so hot that it is almost invisible.
I suspect we will have to wait a little longer than 2030 for green hydrogen to become competitively priced.