Towards A Sustainable Hydrogen Economy

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7th September 2010, 12:28pm - Views: 800

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Towards a sustainable hydrogen economy

RMIT University renewable energy researcher, Associate Professor John Andrews,

will outline a vision for a sustainable hydrogen economy in a presentation at the

EcoGen 2010 Conference in Sydney tomorrow (Wednesday, 8 September).

Associate Professor Andrews said the original concept of a “hydrogen economy”

was conceived in the early 1970s when concerns were first being raised about

shrinking oil, gas and coal supplies. 

“Now that we confront the threat of irreversible climate change, as well as a

looming deficit between oil demand and supply, this concept needs radical re-

envisioning as a truly ‘sustainable hydrogen economy’,” he said.

“Hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources has a critical role to play

globally and in Australia as a replacement transport fuel to petroleum, and as a

long-term energy storage on our main electricity grids to allow continuous supply

from intermittent renewables such as solar and wind.

“Unfortunately there is a lack of understanding by many governments around the

world, including our Federal and State governments, of the role hydrogen can play

indeed most current energy policies simply leave hydrogen out.”

Associate Professor Andrews will argue in his presentation that we should follow

the old maxim of ‘horses for courses’ and look for complementary deployment of

battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, depending on the transport service to be


“Plug-in battery electric cars, for example, are highly suited for urban usage where

only short trips of up to about 100km are being made between recharging,” he


“But where greater ranges are required in cars or trucks, hydrogen fuel cell

vehicles are essential.” 

The sustainable hydrogen energy economy he proposes involves decentralised

production of hydrogen from a wide variety of renewables (solar, wind, wave, tidal

and biomass) – rather than large-scale centralised production – and long-distance

transmission of hydrogen via pipelines, as proposed in the original hydrogen

economy concept.

Associate Professor John Andrews is the leader of the renewable-energy hydrogen

research group and Director of the Master of Engineering (Sustainable Energy)

program in RMIT’s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing

Engineering. He will speak on Re-envisioning a sustainable hydrogen energy

economy on Day 3 of the EcoGen 2010 conference (

For interviews: Associate Professor John Andrews, 0409 400 858.

For media enquiries: RMIT University Communications, Gosia Kaszubska,

(03) 9925 3176 or 0417 510 735.

7 September, 2010

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