Essay by Eric Worrall
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia can save the world by manufacturing cheap goods using green hydrogen.
Irrelevant to global decarbonisation? No, Australia’s crucial to it
Political and international editor
The Coalition spent over a decade coaching Australia into a state of learnt helplessness over any action on climate change.
One of its most effective arguments was that Australia emitted only 1 per cent of all global greenhouse gases, so even if it eliminated all of them it wouldn’t make a jot of difference. What was the point of trying?
In truth, Australia has the potential to make a cut to global emissions of 8 per cent, according to new research by the eminent economist Ross Garnaut.
By what magical arithmetic can Australia eliminate 8 per cent of world emissions if it churns out only 1 per cent? By functioning as a major world supplier of zero-carbon goods and services which will allow the rest of the world, and China especially, to cut its emissions.
One of the book’s co-authors, ANU economics professor Ligang Song, says that “using Australian renewable electricity and hydrogen produced from renewables to convert [iron ore] into iron metal and steel would reduce global emissions by around 2 per cent – almost twice as much as Australia eliminating its own emissions”.
…Read more: https://amp.smh.com.au/politics/federal/irrelevant-to-global-decarbonisation-no-australia-s-crucial-to-it-20221003-p5bmnv.html
Nobody to my knowledge has found a way to convert hideously expensive green hydrogen into competitively priced green steel and silicon.
Although hydrogen can in theory be used in place of coal to reduce ore into iron and silicon, in practice hydrogen is a bad substitute.
In steel, hydrogen impurities in steel are a disaster, they cause hydrogen embrittlement.
Hydrogen mixed with silicon is possibly even worse than using hydrogen to reduce iron ore. Silicon and hydrogen form toxic silane, which over the years has been responsible for a significant number of fatal industrial accidents.
Why do Australians fall for such absurd green narratives?
The reason appears to be that many Australians yearn for the days when Australia was a booming manufacturing hub, before Australian manufacturing went into decline 60 years ago (see the graph at the top of the page). The green industry narrative plays into this yearning.
The reality is Australia’s manufacturing decline will not be solved by a few solar panels.
As far as I can tell, the decline in Australian manufacturing was caused by a combination of greedy government tax rises, and later, in the 90s, rising energy costs, after the Australian government became obsessed with renewables.
Expensive, government subsidised green energy will not fix these problems.