Industry forum looks to green exports

ARENA Insights Forum fosters collaboration on hydrogen, steel and aluminium

“How good is this? The biggest ARENA INSIGHTS meeting ever.”

The opening remarks of Australia’s former Chief Scientist and current Special Adviser to the Australia Government, Dr Alan Finkel.

The occasion? Stakeholders from the hydrogen, aluminium and steel industries coming together to discuss decarbonisation technologies at the ARENA Insights Forum.

Run by ARENA’s Knowledge Sharing team, the event centred around sharing lessons from ARENA’s cutting-edge projects. as well as leading initiatives and research from industry.

Knowledge sharing is one of ARENA’s core functions – publishing reports, spreading information, running events like the Insights Forum.

This forms a key part of the return on investment from ARENA grant funding. ARENA chips in money on behalf of the Government, then shares the lessons so that broader industry players can reap the benefits of the public funding.

With a theme of “Australia as a green export superpower”, the forum split into two streams: renewable hydrogen and low emissions metals.

Former Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel speaking at a lectern.
Former Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel delivered an opening keynote.

Dr Finkel offered an encouraging picture of Australia’s prospects as green exporter.

“We are building on a good base,” he said.

“Australia is the world leader in installed solar; our hydrogen strategy was adopted unanimously by all governments, we’ve seen record investment in solar and wind in recent years, and the solar and wind combined share of generated output nearly tripled in the last five years.”

In the renewable hydrogen stream, ARENA Investment Director Alex McIntosh chaired a panel examining lessons from ARENA’s hydrogen portfolio, including some of the most advanced hydrogen projects in Australia

Four people sitting in a row on a stage.
The Insights Forum featured a panel discussion on ARENA’s hydrogen portfolio.

For instance, Engie’s 10MW Yuri project in the Pilbara, which when completed will be Australia’s largest electrolyser.

The forum also heard from the Queensland Government-owned Stanwell Corporation. Stanwell is part of an Australian-Japanese consortium investigating a potential hydrogen export hub development in Gladstone, Central Queensland.

Also present was Fortescue Future Industries. Their proposed 500MW renewable hydrogen plant on Brisbane’s Gibson Island has attracted an ARENA grant of $13.7 million towards a $38 million front-end engineering and design (FEED) study.

In the low emissions metals stream, participants heard from companies at the forefront of decarbonising the aluminium and steel value chains.

A selection of attendees took a dive into the world of low emissions steel, with a visit to BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks.

The Wollongong facility is Australia’s largest steel plant and BlueScope are actively looking at options to decarbonise the site. With ARENA’s help, BlueScope are conducting feasibility studies to investigate low emissions technologies.

Rio Tinto, Calix and GFG also shared their insights into low emissions iron and steel.

On the aluminium side, participants heard from Rio Tinto and Alcoa, two of Australia’s largest players in the aluminium value chain. Both companies are working with ARENA to trial low emissions technologies.

Elizabeth Boylan at Deloitte spoke on ARENA & Deloitte’s alumina decarbonisation roadmap.

Launched a few weeks before the forum, the report found just four technologies could reduce up to 98% of emissions from Australia’s alumina refineries.

5 people from ARENA's Knowledge Sharing team standing on a stage
ARENA’s Knowledge Sharing team hosted the event.

Reflecting on the event, ARENA Knowledge Sharing Director Kate O’Callaghan was optimistic.

“It’s the focus on real project insights, without the sales pitch,” she said.

“We aim to create an environment that caters to decision makers in the energy industry who are hungry for detailed project knowledge, whether that be about successes to replicate, or challenges to overcome.“

“Our knowledge ecosystem is always growing, with a Knowledge Bank full of project reports and presentations, Insights Newsletter wrapping new knowledge every month and an ongoing calendar of in-person and online events.”

To keep up with ARENA’s Knowledge Sharing work, subscribe to the Insights newsletter.