Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:47): I rise to support the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project, as the Nationals and the Liberals do. Now, as you are aware, there was federal and state funding of $50 million each some few years ago in support of this, and I was happy to attend in the Latrobe Valley – the place that has been the powerhouse of this nation, this state, for almost 100 years and still supplies a great degree of our electricity on a daily basis – the launch of the HESC project. I was pleased to see the Treasurer the Honourable Tim Pallas also there, along with the Japanese consortium.

We know that the pilot project came to fruition and delivered a successful outcome earlier this year, and we also are aware that there is a feasibility study that is now being undertaken by the Japanese government, which is prepared to put $2.35 billion on the table for investment into Victorian energy supply. There is a feasibility study that is due out in April of next year, and we look forward to that; $2.35 billion is a significant fund of investment at a time when this state has a massive deficit.

However, let us talk on the merits in relation to the hydrogen supply chain project. We know that there has been in the initial pilot project the gasification of coal, the treatment of it, the liquefaction of it in the Latrobe Valley and the transportation of it through to the Port of Hastings to be taken off to Japan. We also know that the whole discussion around transitioning away from fossil fuels into the future and transitioning towards, we will say, renewable energies, new technologies and the role that clean energy transition can play should be agnostic about the content, and the outcome should be about reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

That should be the long-term goal and focus, but the Greens seem to sit on an ideological hill, always casting aspersions at the Latrobe Valley, which I find quite offensive. What we want to see is a reduction in global CO2 emissions, and indeed this project can deliver those reductions. It can also deliver long-term jobs to support that transition in the region of the Latrobe Valley and also in Hastings. We know that Yallourn power station will be coming off line in 2028 and Loy Yang A in 2035. These important jobs can then transition over to this very adaptable and important potential for energy.

The other thing that we want to look at is the fact that if the technology is there and the infrastructure is there, then the hydrogen can then be used for, we will call it, green hydrogen. In a way I would like to get away from those different terms. We should all be talking about carbon intensity. But it can then be used when there is excess electricity formed through wind and solar. That can also in the future be converted into hydrogen for a supply chain. It also is a great opportunity not only for earning export dollars but also for a domestic energy market in a changing environment.

On top of that, we have heard the Greens talk about carbon capture and storage and the lack of credibility. Well, I dispute that in its entirety. I went to the CarbonNet cooperative research centre near Colac, and I walked and listened to scientists there. For the last 10 years it has been storing carbon as a prototype, as a test, so there is absolutely the opportunity in the future. There are currently around 200 various stages of development with this carbon capture and storage. Again, let us be agnostic about this. Let us be pragmatic about this. Let us ensure that there is a future and that hydrogen can be on the table.