ECAs and the future of hydrogen finance

(Lexology, London, 8 March 2021) Hydrogen can be put to uses such as fuel cells for remote and emergency power or in the vehicle and transport sector, replacement feedstock for ammonia production, as reticulated natural gas replacement or to supply electricity markets. Global decarbonisation commitments are driving Australia's hydrogen industry together with bank mandates to move away from fossil fuels. Hydrogen offers the prospect of capitalising on Australia's renewable power resources of wind, solar and hydro to produce green hydrogen. The key inputs to a green hydrogen project are power and water. Ensuring a reliable and cost-effective power supply and access to water rights will be important. As will access rights to key infrastructure (ie gas pipelines, road, rail or ports). Early stage hydrogen projects are unlikely to be project financed without government and industry support. Establishing a new industry requires a long-term policy framework, innovation and collaboration of all industry participants – governments, regulators, industry, industry bodies, investors and financiers. Australia has the essential requirements for a reliable and efficient green hydrogen industry – reliable and affordable renewable power plus recent experience developing the LNG and solar energy markets. Following the lead of the large-scale LNG projects, funding from export credit agencies is also a likely option. ECAs such as The Japan Bank for International Co-operation, The Export-Import Bank of China, and Export Finance Australia are governmental agencies that provide finance for export related transactions. ECAs must fund in accordance with their government imposed mandate. Securing domestic energy supply or key commodities is often included in mandates and large, export oriented Asia Pacific LNG projects have benefited from ECA funding.