Updated: Jan 22
Chris Bowen is the Federal Member for McMahon and the Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy under the Albanese Government. In July of 2022 Mr. Bowen introduced new regulations regarding the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and in October, announced a new investment into developing a Green Hydrogen Facility in Brisbane.
Brisbane Green Hydrogen Facility
Mr. Bowen announced a $13.7 million grant towards helping Fortescue Future Industries and Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) investigate the development of a green hydrogen facility. The $38 million project's purpose is to decarbonise IPL's Gibson Island ammonia synthesis plant in Brisbane.
According to ARENA the synthesis of ammonia is the largest existing use of hydrogen both in Australia and across the world and is a highly energy intensive process producing "about 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year." Towards the intended goal of utilising 100% renewable hydrogen "the project aims to demonstrate a pathway to decarbonise ammonia production by converting existing ammonia facilities to use renewable hydrogen produced through the electrolysis of water." This is intended to produce 70,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year.
The project is also intended to generate new insights into renewable technologies, including developing benchmarks for the economic feasibility of such facilities and ammonia production and assist in future electrolyse deployments. Mr. Bowen said the project would help Australia become a world leader in hydrogen production in what could become one of the world's largest renewable hydrogen facilities.
ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, stated that the goal is to reduce the costs of renewable hydrogen so that it can compete with existing fossil fuels:
“Ultimately our goal is to reduce the costs of renewable hydrogen so that it can become … competitive with fossil fuels and we can scale up production and become a viable option for companies to decarbonise their industrial processes or further assist in the creation of a viable export industry."
ARENA Regulation Amendments
On the 21st of July 2022, Mr. Bowen introduced amendments to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Regulation 2016. The primary changes concern specific terminology, introducing the new terms "electrification technologies" and "energy efficiency technologies."
The former refers to technologies which either replace technologies which use fossil fuels or facilitate the replacement of technology which uses fossil fuels. The latter refers to those technologies involved in energy conservation, management of demand and energy efficiency.
The insertion of these terms then omits the terminology used under the previous Coalition government, "clean energy technologies" and "clean energy projects." These previous terms had been described as "vague," and the amended terminology reflects Mr. Bowen's and the Albanese Government's intention to "reverse the former Morrison Government’s attempts to redirect renewable energy funding to non-renewable technologies."
Mr. Bowen stated that ARENA had also been restricted in achieving it energy transformation goals as a result of "three separate attempts to broaden ARENA’s mandate by regulation so it could fund non-renewable technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and blue hydrogen." The Albanese Government intends to reduce missions by 43% by 2030, with Mr. Bowen stressing this target as a minimum:
"...43% is our minimum commitment – and does not prevent our collective efforts delivering even stronger reductions over the coming decade”.