Battle of the billionaires: the race for green hydrogen

Battle of the billionaires: the race for green hydrogen

The race for billionaires

The race for the cheapest green fuel is led by billionaires. If Reliance pushes ahead with its Australian plans, it will face Forrest’s Fortescue, which has promised to produce the zero-carbon fuel for export within three years.

Forrest and Ambani have previously talked about the road to carbon-free fuels. Forrest, it seems, is quick to believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery if Reliance’s efforts end up extending to Australia.

Forrest says there is a lot to admire about India’s progress, including its solar manufacturing which now extends to polysilicon creation and wafer manufacturing to reduce dependence on China for supplies. A Reliance subsidiary is also leading that charge.

Photovoltaic panels on a solar farm in Pavagada, Karnataka, India. The country boosted its solar production capacity could be a good match for Australia. Bloomberg

The sheer size of the Indian market – 1.4 billion people in a still rapidly growing economy – also offers many opportunities for collaboration with other nations.

Australia is an obvious choice. The two countries share a desire to become less dependent on a rising China. Australia has experience in the renewable energy and critical mineral deposits that much of the world craves. But the nation needs a move.

Indian media reports suggest that talks for a comprehensive free trade agreement with Australia are expected to resume this month following the signing of an interim agreement in April.

That deal was a major win for Australia and one in the eye for other nations including Britain and Canada, who have struggled to do the same.

The missing mechanisms

But can the drive to move Australia’s exports beyond traditional commodities of coal and education go beyond good intentions?

Longtime observers of bilateral relations note that they have heard for at least a decade that “now is the time” for the two countries to do more business together. Not much has happened so far.

Dhruv Deepak (DD) Saxena has built businesses in Australia and India and wants more people to do the same. “Indian companies see Australia as too small and too far away, and Australians see India as too difficult, too difficult.”

There is still a lack of enabling mechanisms that could accelerate some large strategic investments in their respective countries, says Jai Patel, who leads KPMG’s Indian business practice in Australia.

“If we want to change the key to this relationship, we need to invest in infrastructure, resources including critical minerals, renewable energy, technology and education. That’s where the dollars are. Everything else is going to be great and we’ll have this conversation again in 10 years.

“There is an immense opportunity for Australia and India to collaborate and co-invest in the areas of renewable energy and resources projects. We know that some Indian companies are interested in such projects in Australia, but Australia needs to eliminate some obstacles in areas such as land acquisition and infrastructure development, ”says Patel.

Collaboration opportunities

Lisa Singh, chief executive of the Australia India Institute and co-chair of the AILD, says Australia possesses 21 of the 49 critical minerals India has identified as essential to economic well-being. “India is getting closer and saying we want to be an alternative technology hub to China,” says Singh.

These minerals are needed to make everything from cell phones to wind turbines, solar panels and batteries to power electric vehicles.

“We are talking about creating a new supply chain system between two countries. We’ve always been a mining country, but it’s mineral minerals that will help decarbonise the two economies, ”Ms. Singh said.

CSIRO is among those working to connect the two countries through applied research that can help the industry produce quality exports. The national science agency is nervously waiting to see if $ 43.2 million in specific funding for the partnerships with India that raised the March budget will survive the change of government.

He hopes he can repeat the kind of success he has had with BHP working with Indian interests in critical minerals, green steel and entrepreneur financing.

At Australia India Leadership Dialogue in New Delhi this week (LR): Australian High Commissioner for India Barry Unsworth, Australia India Institute CEO Lisa Singh, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brooks, president of Tata Consulting Services Asia Pacific Girish Ramachandran, IKP Knowledge Deepanwita Chattopadhyay of Park, Vice President of Bharti Enterprises Rakesh Bharti Mittal.

“BHP has been mining nickel sulfide in WA for many years,” says Robert Hough, director of mineral resources at CSIRO. CSIRO has a long history of helping BHP locate new nickel deposits, but has more recently contributed to the production of nickel sulfate for batteries.

“The rocks are not simple. The ones that contain nickel sulfide also have other products and you can’t get those elements to go into your final battery. The production of a refined nickel sulfate of sufficient quality required various experiments which resulted in a pilot facility operating around the clock at the CSIRO facility in the Perth suburb of Waterford.

“Our researchers worked closely with BHP staff to carry out that process to produce a quality export,” says Hough. CSIRO is interested in developing critical mining value chains, she adds.

“From the government’s point of view, it’s about attracting investment in Australian projects. For us, if we can identify a supply chain, for example, batteries or solar power with a country like India that foresees a huge demand curve, then there are opportunities for R&D collaborations. The scale of the challenge is enormous. We shouldn’t try to do everything ”.

Will India stay on track?

Entrepreneur and author Bharat Joshi has some advice for those outside India struggling to conceptualize how the country will make the technological advancements needed to address the challenges of climate change and reducing emissions.

World Bank research suggests that India, the world’s fifth largest economy, more than halved the percentage of people living in extreme poverty between 2011 and 2019. However, per capita income remains below. that of many of its close neighbors. GDP growth forecasts are rosy, but India has been on the rise for decades – will it stay on track this time around?

India often surprises, Joshi notes. “At the turn of the century, India was completely wiped out when it came to digital technology and the Internet. We had the lowest per capita penetration of telephone lines. The internet connection was copper and at the time no one could foresee the mobile phone technology that would enable India to become an IT superpower. “

Joshi’s book Surfing in India documents this phenomenon of “climbing over”. “We have done this with digital payments and telephony, and we do the same with energy and energy.”

He believes that there are not only opportunities for collaboration between Australia and India, but also needs, as Australia ranks first in the world for lithium economic resources and second for cobalt.

“If we want to move towards a greener way of fueling India’s growth, Australia is essential for us. There are also many things India needs that Australia has surplus and vice versa. Our interests are aligned, “she says.” I think it’s absolutely fantastic that Australia has taken note of India as a firm, reliable and equally great actor. “

But Australia needs to put some money down.

“In this country, you are rewarded for taking root, for taking the trouble to develop relationships. Australia has a huge capacity to invest here. Do it and the rewards will be great. “

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