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Australian carrier of liquefied nitrogen to be shipped off to Japan

The Suiso Frontier, the world's first hydrogen carrier, built by Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries, is pictured upon its arrival from Kobe, Japan at the Port of Hastings in Victoria, Australia January 20, 2022. Photo: HySTRA/Handout /REUTERS 


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | JANUARY 21st 2022 


Researchers fear a new fossil fuel industry may begin with an Australian shipment of liquid hydrogen, the first of its kind, set to be sent off to Japan in what may be a new series of trades that will inevitably lead to an increase in carbon emissions in the country.

This commercial shipment, Australia’s first containing liquid nitrogen, is part of the $500 million Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot project, led primarily by a Japanese-Australian consortium. The ship is called the Suiso Frontier, and it’s the first liquid nitrogen carrier in the world. However, the news has many researchers and environmentalists concerned.

“Hydrogen derived from fossil fuel sources, like what is being shipped out of the LaTrobe Valley, which is derived from some of the world’s dirtiest coal, is really just a new fossil fuel industry,” said senior researcher for climate solutions at the Climate Council, Tim Baxter.

He added: “Fossil hydrogen is a whole new fossil fuel industry, regardless of whether carbon capture and storage is attached to it. It results in extraordinary greenhouse gas emissions. It’s not a climate solution.”

Though carbon emissions are heavily associated with the production of this liquid nitrogen as a fuel source, it’s been said that carbon capture storage will be used to even out the issue, thus making the resulting carbon emissions negligible.  


“A successful Australian hydrogen industry means lower emissions, greater energy production and more local jobs,” said Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison.

“The HESC project puts Australia at the forefront of the global energy transition to lower emissions through clean hydrogen, which is a fuel of the future.”

Governmental estimates suggest that this may reduce emissions by as much as 1.8 million tonnes a year, with Morrison’s announcement that the country’s goal is for the production of 225,000 tonnes of carbon-neutral hydrogen each year, as well as producing commercial-scale carbon capture through the CarbonNet project.

Regardless, the project still has its critics. Many are fearful that the creation of such an industry will only have worse effects on carbon emissions in the long term.

“If you’re importing hydrogen made from coal, essentially the emissions are going to be worse in Australia rather than it would be by just taking that coal and burning it in Japan,” said an engineer with the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions, Dr Fiona Beck.

“There’s no policy pressure or economic reason why Japan would buy low-emissions hydrogen when it gets the same benefit by buying cheap, high-emissions hydrogen,” she added.

Dr Beck is a co-author of a recently published study in the Journal of Cleaner Production, which analyses the Japanese-Australia hydrogen supply chain and the resultant emissions that will be produced from it. What it concluded was that if the usage of fossil fuel-produced hydrogen became normalised in Japan, rather than lowering emissions, the country’s emissions would instead be passed on to Australia.

This is owed in large part to the unmanageable amount of emissions that are involved in the creation of liquefied nitrogen. While Japan’s own carbon emissions would be slashed, Australia’s would only be increased.

“Unless Australia has some strong policy to keep its carbon emissions down, we could see a rise in emissions in Australia due to this hydrogen trade,” added Dr Beck.

The shipment is due to depart in the coming days, travelling from Victoria, Australia to Kobe, Japan. The project has seen support from the Victorian, Australian and Japanese governments, with many hopeful for the next stages.

“The HESC project has the potential to become a major source of clean energy which will help Australia and Japan both reach our goals of net zero emissions by 2050,” said Australia’s Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor. “Not only this, but the HESC project is delivering jobs and economic activity for Victoria, with a clean hydrogen sector potentially able to generate more than A$50 billion in additional GDP by 2050.”


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2022 

Source: The Guardian, Splash247, Upstream