The role of green hydrogen in Australia’s energy transition
Green hydrogen has emerged a vital force in Australia’s growing appetite for a clean energy transition. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, renewable hydrogen should supply between 7-24% of the world’s energy demands by 2050 if global warming is to be kept within 1.5°C. A key strategy in this direction is the Federal government’s 2019 Australian Hydrogen Strategy, which aims to establish Australia as a global leader in hydrogen production, transportation, and usage by 2030.
Despite all of these, the hydrogen industry is facing a skills gap. One of its most pressing issues is the lack of skilled workers capable of delivering on the promises of its emerging technologies. If not addressed, this could hamper resource maximisation and growth acceleration of the green hydrogen economy. However, the most fascinating revelation in all of this is that no new job roles are required.
Why upskilling and training are critical for the green hydrogen economy
Upskilling and training are pivotal to such a nascent industry that requires a workforce with a unique set of skills and competencies. These include a deep understanding of hydrogen production, storage, and distribution systems, alongside safety protocols and regulatory frameworks. “46 existing roles will be augmented to undertake hydrogen activities,” PwC stated.
To bridge this gap, concerted efforts must be made to provide the necessary training to existing employees, as well as to attract new talent into the sector. This goes beyond equipping individuals with the technical skills to operate; it includes fostering a multidisciplinary understanding of the broader green hydrogen ecosystem and its market architecture, its potential impact on the economy, and its role in achieving sustainability and climate change targets.
The state of green hydrogen training in Australia
In Australia, the state of green hydrogen training is still in its infancy. However, it is projected that it could generate $11B in additional GDP by 2050. While there is growing recognition of the need for such training, there is still a lack of targeted training programs that cater specifically to the green hydrogen sector. Most training initiatives are general renewable energy programs, which, while valuable, do not offer the specialised knowledge and skills required for green hydrogen technologies.
The signs of change are at least encouraging. Several universities and technical institutions in Australia have started to introduce training programs focused on hydrogen technologies. Moreover, the Australian Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is funding research and technologies aimed at developing a skilled workforce.
A case for opportunities through change
Australia can plant itself as a hub for green hydrogen talent, attracting investment and fostering innovation in the sector, by providing the necessary training. The market is rife with opportunities from technical roles, such as engineers and technicians, to managerial and policy-oriented positions. There is also a growing demand for researchers and scientists who can contribute to the advancement of green hydrogen technologies.
By investing in a competent workforce that can drive the industry forward, Australia is well-positioned to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, improve its energy security, create employment opportunities, and stimulate economic growth.
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