The world is on a mission towards decarbonisation and looking towards Australia as the source of imports. New hydrogen technologies and our natural advantages have the potential to place the Northern Territory in a globally competitive position to be a leading exporter of renewable energy.

In early 2020 National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), held a series of consultation workshops around Australia with key players in the hydrogen ecosystem. The aim: To develop a series of hydrogen technology ‘clusters’ to support the national approach to renewables, as well as the individual agendas of the states and territories.

The consultation was crucial in mapping the way forward for hydrogen technology clusters. It recognised the need for a bottom-up approach to drive supply chain coordination, connection and development at a local level that could grow to form a National Hydrogen Cluster.

There were significant findings of the workshops including a reported lack of knowledge sharing and difficulties accessing information relating to technology and demonstrations. Two critical priorities were identified – the pursuit of domestic opportunities and a focus on exports. Both of these priorities unlock opportunities, build capability, commercial depth and understanding in the economy.

In response to the consultation, NERA launched the Regional Hydrogen Technology Clusters Seed Funding Program. This initiative provided seed funding for successful applicants to form hydrogen technology clusters around key hydrogen projects and technology supply chains across Australia. These clusters will enhance local cohesion, technology and capability in the hydrogen value chain.

What is a regional technology cluster? It is a concentration of interconnected, collaborative small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) and institutions in a particular field, in this case (industrial) hydrogen. These entities operate across the complete value chain of industry from innovation to full commercialisation. Clusters have a successful track record of scaling emergent industries and their related supply chains 2.5 times faster than non-clustered industries.

The establishment of these clusters marks a significant step forward in Australia’s capability in developing hydrogen technologies.

The formation of the Northern Territory Hydrogen Technology Cluster is a game changer. It can further the Territory’s plans to decarbonize and position it as a critical component in the establishment of a national export agenda. To capitalise, the Northern Territory Government has implemented a robust strategy on renewable hydrogen. The strategy outlines the need to support development by building upon the globally recognised success of the Territory’s existing energy support industries. The strategy also recognises renewable hydrogen as a technology that will require novel skills and innovation and will achieve significant scale and viability in the region.

The Northern Territory Hydrogen Technology Cluster is a Co-Chair model between the Darwin Innovation Hub and the Northern Territory Government, managed by the DIH and supported and advised by Charles Darwin University and the Energy Club NT.

The Darwin Innovation Hub has a successful track record of delivering services supported under AusIndustry’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme. The DIH provides SME’s in growth and emerging sectors with access to expert growth facilitators and grants funding to support novel innovations, which will provide significant value to the participants of the cluster.

It is an exciting time for the Northern Territory, and over the coming months, the DIH will be coordinating economic development for the renewable energy industry. The DIH will work with critical project proponents in the supply chain to build the capacity and capabilities, SME’s looking to provide services to the industry, as well as those looking to challenge and change the existing energy industry.

To get involved or find out more, contact Emma Nesbitt – Chief Operating Officer, Darwin Innovation Hub [email protected]