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23 August 2018 Speech

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Wurundjeri people as the Traditional Owners of the land that we’re meeting on today, and pay my respect to their Elders past and present.

Thank you to Patrick and Gustav for your welcome and opening remarks. It's always great to be talking about CSIRO's work, but even better to be doing with so many of our valued partners in the room. So thank you all for being here today, and for your ongoing passion, commitment and leadership on this exciting new energy of the future – hydrogen.

Just a few weeks ago I was in Brisbane for the world-first demonstration of CSIRO's hydrogen-membrane cracker technology – test-driving a new generation of hydrogen-fuelled cars. Again, another great event with our partners at BOC, HMA, Toyota and Hyundai.

It's well-known that I like to have a prop or two when I'm talking about our work, but being able to get behind the wheel of a car that I hope many Australians will soon be driving, really lifted the bar for demonstrating the impact and importance of our research.


So it's timely then, to follow an event where we test-drive a vehicle with one where we lay out the roadmap for where, and how, we're going to drive this new energy industry.

As we transition to a low-emissions energy future, there is vast potential for a new industry in hydrogen to make a significant impact in limiting Australia's carbon emissions.

Hydrogen is new, but it builds on all of Australia's traditional strengths – our national technological advantages, export capabilities and strong relationships with key international energy markets.

We have an opportunity to turn our significant natural resources, including renewables like solar and wind energy, into a uniquely Australian low-emissions energy product and ship it around the world – literally exporting Aussie sunshine.

Hydrogen is a clear option for our future energy mix and CSIRO is leading the way in research, and energy innovation more broadly.

A challenge for hydrogen has been how to safely store, transport, and refuel – which is why CSIRO invented the hydrogen cracker, to seamlessly extract hydrogen from ammonia which then leverages the world's existing liquid fuel infrastructure. So you could say it's really liquid sunshine that we’ll be exporting.

This National Hydrogen Roadmap provides a blueprint for the development of the hydrogen industry in Australia, by informing investment so the industry can scale in a coordinated manner. These roadmaps are new for CSIRO, under our current strategy period we've produced six, and they guide us to invest in the right science to clear the roadblocks to a better future.

Continuous improvement in cost and performance of hydrogen-related technologies has accelerated over the past three years along the entire value chain.

At the same time, commercial demand from nations such as Japan and South Korea is rapidly improving and will reach a tipping point in the next few years, unlocking growth and jobs for Australia.

Bottling Australian sunshine to power Asia is an opportunity to build our next great export industry, lead global innovation, contribute to the global energy transition, and grow Australia's grid stability.

Nevertheless, obstacles need to be overcome before the full benefits of hydrogen can materialise, and national leadership is critical to connect up key players and capabilities across the value chain.

The Roadmap charts a course for navigating the critical partnerships and investment needed to seize this opportunity.

The Road Trip

So once you have the right roadmap, the road trip can begin. And CSIRO has chartered a big bus – because when CSIRO wins, everybody rides.

We've established a strong network of partners and collaborators that supports practical research and technology initiatives across the hydrogen energy value chain, fuelling a sustainable new industry and with it, next generation jobs of the future.

Bringing together a diversity of partners from across industry, government, research and the community is critical on a road trip into uncharted territory, because we need to be comfortable asking others for directions along the way.

Energy has never been a hotter topic in Australia, but our future has never been brighter. We will have to bring everyone with us on the journey and that means hearing from many voices fighting over which route to take, and which playlist to listen to.

The great Aussie road trip may well be an institution, but so are the hazards that go with it. Wildlife, weather, and of course, other drivers, are all hazards we have to manage.

The Roadmap highlights a number of risks to the success of our endeavour, and we will have to be constantly on the watch for them around each bend in the road.

Market levers, customer sentiment, regulations, international trends and many other factors will affect our trip – but with many views on board, we will find ways to go over, under, around and through the obstacles ahead.

Many voices on a road trip can be a challenge – so a bit of Carpool Karaoke or a Classic Hits playlist might be in order.

Having a Roadmap that represents many and diverse voices means we're all singing from the same song sheet as we seek investment, develop innovation, engage customers, and build this industry of the future.

In between the singalongs, there’s the inevitable rumbling stomach. What's a road trip without snacks?

Look out – here comes the inevitable Dad Joke, also non-negotiable on a road trip.

What kind of snack do you pack on a Hydrogen Road Trip? Water and Crackers… Like CSIRO's hydrogen cracking membrane technology!

But no matter how in tune you are and how well stocked the Esky, there's always at least one voice piping up from the back on a road trip, asking the eternal question, 'Are we there yet?'

CSIRO is focused on solving Australia's greatest challenges, and there may be no greater challenge than answering that question for once and all: but we'll try. Here's our answer – we're never going to be there, we're always going to be on a journey towards better solutions – that's innovation.

For hydrogen, although we've already made early breakthroughs – like our membrane cracker technology – we're also investing in breakthroughs of the future through our Hydrogen Energy Systems Future Science Platform (FSP).

This program is de-risking new hydrogen technologies and supporting development of new energy markets including in chemicals and transportation sectors – and when we deliver those, we'll be looking towards the next horizon, because innovation is all about never being there yet.

Next steps

So before I hand over to our next speaker, let me leave you with one more for the road. Our hydrogen vehicle is full of fuel, and our Roadmap ahead is clear. We've loaded a diverse but passionate group of people aboard, and we've packed plenty of snacks and songs.

We'll have many stops along the way, and that's important to ensure we correct course as we go – but our destination is clear.

We look forward to continuing to work with Australian and international partners to guide this burgeoning energy source, while enabling the transition to a lower emissions future that will benefit us all.

In 1962 JFK set a goal of reaching the moon, and today, a hydrogen market in Australia might seem like a moonshot. But CSIRO has been delivering the moonshots for 100 years, creating a better future for all Australians. And if Australia one day decides to go to the moon, not only will CSIRO be there, but we might have a hydrogen-fueled spacecraft.


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