Expert says we must embrace hydrogen

ONE of the country's most influential futurists and media commentators says Australia should have embraced hydrogen years ago.

But Dr Keith Suter says it's not too late and Gladstone is well positioned to benefit from it.

Dr Suter was guest speaker and MC at yesterday's Gladstone Engineering Alliance Conference held at Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre.

A frequent contributor to Sky News and Channel 7, Dr Suter opened the conference with his thoughts on our hydrogen future and the current hesitations surrounding its use.

"I think hydrogen has a public relations problem because of two issues - the hydrogen bomb and the Hindenburg disaster - and I think people get nervous when they hear talk about the hydrogen economy.

"I'm not a scientist so it's very difficult to get my head around running a car on water or a bus on hydrogen.

"So I think it's the shock of the new and people have difficulty understanding something that is completely new."

Dr Suter recalled a time in 2003 when the Howard Government looked toward hydrogen but very little came from it.

"They tried to stimulate interest in this but it faded away," he said. "You need government support so it's pleasing to see the Queensland Government's recent announcement which I think is fantastic, but we should be seeing more at the Commonwealth level."

In May the State Gov­ern­ment outlined its 2019-2024 Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy.

The five-year plan is aimed at driving the development of an economically sustainable and competitive hydrogen industry in Queensland, while creating more highly skilled jobs and export opportunities.

"Hydrogen is the energy wave of the future and we are going to ride it in Queensland to create more jobs," Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said in May.

"Hydrogen also has the potential to create a large number of jobs in regional Queensland. In a city like Gladstone there is enormous potential for hydrogen to be produced and exported."

Dr Suter said a lack of action on hydrogen came down to two reasons - lack of political leadership and that Australia was blessed with other resources.

"I'm pleased we're now talking about hydrogen for transport but also for ammonia and the other uses we can find with ammonia in terms of fertiliser et cetera," Dr Suter said.

"I'm pleased to see the government is making the right statements, but we've got to make sure they are continuing to be urged on."

Dr Suter believed Gladstone was on the right path to making the most of a hydrogen economy.