Victoria, a southeastern state in Australia, has provided an AU$ 10 million (US$ 7.7 million) fund to support hydrogen research. The funds will be invested in developing a hydrogen research hub based in the Swinburne University of Technology, called Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2).
The VH2 will aim to support students and researchers to study new hydrogen technologies such as fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen storage containers. The hub is expected to create 300 new full-time jobs. It will provide half of its scholarships to female to encourage them to involve in the hydrogen energy sector. The work on the hub will start in 2022 and will be completed in eighteen months.
The grant has come from a $350 million (US$ 268.7 million) fund established by Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund to support state universities and help them recovers from the COVID-19. Minister for Higher Education Gayle Tierney said that “We are proud to be investing in this innovative project that will drive the state’s COVID-19 recovery.” The Victorian government is also planning to release its hydrogen roadmap plan over the next few weeks.
VH2 is also aiming to strengthen its partnership internationally, and for that purpose, it is setting up its branch in Stuttgart in Germany. The Swinburne University of Technology is partnered with Germany’s ARENA 2036, a research facility that brings industry on campus at the University of Stuttgart, to engage the global hydrogen economy. Both have been working jointly since 2016, on various research projects focusing on light-weighting and digitalisation. “The Victorian Hydrogen Hub will be connected to a matching facility to be built by ARENA 2036 in Germany, to bring together more than 40 industry partners in Stuttgart,” Professor Bronwyn Fox, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise said.
Under the VH2 partnership, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which is Australia’s national science agency will receive over AU$ 1 million (US$ 0.77) towards the development of a refuelling station to fuel and test hydrogen vehicles, to be located at CSIRO’s Clayton campus in Victoria.
CSIRO Executive Director, Growth, Nigel Warren said: “As Australia considers energy alternatives, we know hydrogen is clean and will be cost-competitive – but a major barrier to it becoming a fuel source for cars and trucks is how to refuel, and the lack of refuelling infrastructure.”
CSIRO has been working with automakers such as Toyota Australia towards helping the future adoption and supply of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in Australia. The refuelling project will help the agency in trials of hydrogen vehicles fleet and support adoption of FCEVs locally.