hydrogen symbol with globe

Wondering about the future of hydrogen in Australia? Here's an overview of investing in hydrogen in the country.

Hydrogen has long been touted as the most important clean energy source of the future. However, 99 percent of hydrogen produced today is derived from power generated by coal or gas.

Thanks to technological advances and massive new investments made by the public and private sector, the industry is now making the critical transition towards clean "green" hydrogen — in other words, hydrogen that is produced via zero-carbon and low-carbon energy sources.

Australia, like most western nations, is determined to decarbonise its economy as part of the global transition toward renewables. Many industries now face strict targets for reducing emissions as part of the drive to lessen the carbon footprint left by Australia's steel and coal industries.


Although hydrogen is generally seen as a long-term investment play given the many years it takes to build new plants and add capacity in the market, last year saw investors rush to get in on the ground floor of the rapidly expanding Australian green energy market as smaller players began to make their mark.

In 2021, the ASX hydrogen sector saw some exponential gains in the share prices of several up-and-coming players, including Province Resources (ASX:PRL), Pure Hydrogen (ASX:PH2), Sparc Technologies (ASX:SPN), Environmental Clean Technologies (ASX:ECT) and QEM (ASX:QEM). These five companies led the way in driving interest in the kind of opportunity that the Australian hydrogen industry represents, both in the short and long term. Several key public/private partnerships also played a role in stimulating market interest.

Hydrogen investing in Australia: What is hydrogen and how is it used?

Hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth. It is a colourless gas that can be burned to generate electricity, or alternatively can be combined with oxygen atoms in fuel cells. Hydrogen can be produced in gas or liquid form, and has the ability to replace fossil fuels in household heating, transportation and industrial manufacturing processes like steelmaking, which consumes massive amounts of power.

As a fuel, the great advantage of hydrogen is that it produces no carbon emissions, only water as a by-product. First discovered 250 years ago by English physicist Henry Cavendish, hydrogen was initially used in combination with oxygen to power internal combustion engines, hydrogen gas blowpipes and hydrogen gas lamps. It was later used in the construction of hydrogen-lifted airships and German Zeppelins until passenger service was abandoned after the tragic 1937 explosion of the Hindenburg Zeppelin in New Jersey, which killed 36 people.

Currently, the hydrogen market is valued at over US$100 billion, with the material being used widely as an industrial chemical, mainly by the petroleum industry for the production of ammonia, a principal ingredient in the manufacturing of nitrate fertiliser.

There is also growing demand for hydrogen by companies anxious to harness its properties as an effective means of storing power. But none of these applications for hydrogen compare to its extraordinary potential as a viable clean energy fuel for transportation ― particularly in trucks, airplanes and ships.

These essential means of transportation are difficult to decarbonise due to the weight of batteries and their inability to hold sufficient charge for long-haul trips. Hydrogen, however, offers a much lighter alternative as a clean-burning fuel that would go a long way to eliminating carbon emissions in the transport sector.

Hydrogen investing in Australia: Big players and government investment 

Aside from the smaller-cap companies mentioned above, several major Australian energy companies, including Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG,OTCQX:FSUMF), Origin Energy (ASX:ORG,OTC Pink:OGFGF) and Wesfarmers (ASX:WES,OTC Pink:WFAFF), are now rapidly expanding their investment in the hydrogen sector.

Clearly, if hydrogen is now in the process of realizing its potential as a replacement for oil- and coal-generated electricity, the leading steel, coal and gas producers may be well-positioned to bring about this shift in the energy mix. They possess the requisite financial might and technological/engineering expertise to become dominant players in the hydrogen sector as they assume their role in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Aiding this growth in Australia's hydrogen industry is government support. The EU, for example, paid nearly half of the US$23 million cost of Shell’s (LSE:SHEL,NYSE:SHEL) Rhineland project, while Queensland has partnered with Fortescue on a AU$1 billion hydrogen project in Gladstone.

Last year alone saw a doubling in the number of newly announced large-scale hydrogen projects to over 500, as per a Hydrogen Council report. Nearly 75 percent of these long-term plant, port and pipeline projects are expected to be completed by the end of the decade, with 40 percent already funded or under construction.

Meanwhile, the Australian government is in the process of investing AU$1.4 billion in its domestic hydrogen industry as part of a growing global drive towards net-zero emissions. Australia's National Hydrogen Strategy intends to grow this industry and position Australia as a major player by 2030.

Aside from that, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has set out an Australian technology roadmap that intends to pour a total of AU$20 billion into clean hydrogen, energy storage, low-emission steel and aluminium, carbon capture and storage and solar.

In June 2021, Morrison announced a joint hydrogen development program with Germany under which Australia will gain access to highly advanced German hydrogen technology, strengthening Australia's ambitions of becoming a leading hydrogen exporter. This will help Australia build up its capacity to export significant quantities of hydrogen to Germany as part of the European country's policy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Australia will also be partnering with Japan (to develop new hydrogen fuel cell technology and establish the world's first clean liquefied hydrogen export pilot project), Singapore (to accelerate low-emission technologies) and Korea (to collaborate on hydrogen supply chain research and low- and zero-emission technology).

Hydrogen investing in Australia: Long-term outlook

The promise of Australia's hydrogen market is strong — indeed, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency believes the space could be worth up to AU$10 billion annually by 2040, at which time the country would be putting out over 3 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen on a yearly basis.

But putting matters into perspective, proposed long-term investments in transitioning towards hydrogen are still dwarfed by Big Oil's average annual expenditure on developing new fields.

In today's early stages, investors looking to enter Australia's hydrogen space have plenty of choices, whether they want to start with the larger players or try their hand at determining which earlier-stage stocks will be successful.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Harold Von Kursk, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Speaking to the Investing News Network, John Wilson, co-CEO, managing partner and senior portfolio manager at Ninepoint Partners, discussed the basics of this growing market and shared how newcomers can get involved.

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With 24 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources, Australia is a country to watch when it comes to renewable energy. Here's how investors can get involved.

As cultures, political movements and scientific advancements shift, the world is becoming increasingly interested in the rapidly growing renewable energy sector.

In Australia, the generation of renewable energy has risen sharply, increasing from less than 20,000 gigawatt hours in 1999 to 2020's more than 60,000 gigawatt hours.

Clearly the Australian renewable energy sector is on the rise. So how should a prudent investor navigate the industry's different opportunities? And what are the ways to approach such investment opportunities?


Renewable energy in Australia: What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy comes from natural processes, such as wind currents or moving water. It replenishes at a rate equal to or greater than its consumption, and is not used up in the same way that fossil fuels are depleted. For example, a wind turbine turns with the wind, and does not burn up the wind used to generate power.

There are many types of renewable energy. The most widely used source of renewable energy worldwide is hydro power —16.8 percent of the world's power is hydro. Wind and solar power are also very popular. There are many other sources as well, including geothermal, biomass, biogas and liquid biofuels. Solar panels absorb heat from the sun and convert it to power, while water wheels and wind turbines turn kinetic energy into electricity; for its part, geothermal power uses natural hot water sources to employ the Earth itself as a steam engine.

All in all, renewable energy is a relatively new concern. Initially efforts to capitalize on such sources were a struggle — early solar panels lacked efficiency, for instance, although hydroelectric power is an exception and has long been used by governments to augment their citizens' energy needs.

The world is taking more and more notice of renewable energy. Deals made at the United Nations, such as the Paris Agreement, which was adopted in December 2015, have instituted legally binding target numbers for lowered emissions, and a big part of the execution of those goals will be renewable energy sources.

Consequently, it is only a matter of time before the renewable energy sector grows exponentially larger. The need and demand for clean energy is rising quickly. In fact, it is hard to conceive of a world where clean energy from renewable sources is not emphasized more and more every year.

Renewable energy in Australia: How to invest

As of 2020, 24 percent of Australia's energy generation came from renewable sources. The largest sources of renewable energy in Australia are solar and wind, each accounting for approximately 9 percent of the country's energy sources (and 35 percent each of the renewable energy total). Hydro energy has remained mostly steady in terms of its overall percentage of energy generated, whereas solar and wind have been on the climb. Biomass and geothermal sources are still comparatively low in terms of percentage of generated power.

There are many utilities companies listed on the ASX that are investing in renewable energy sources. Here's a look at the five largest of them based on market capitalisation. Data was retrieved on March 31, 2022, using TradingView's stock screener, and companies are listed in descending order from largest to smallest.

1. Meridian Energy

Market cap: AU$11.83 billion; current share price: AU$4.81

Listed both in both New Zealand and Australia, Meridian Energy (ASX:MEZ) is New Zealand’s largest electricity generator through its five wind farms, seven hydro power stations and commercial solar arrays. All the electricity supplied to the company's customers comes from the electricity grid, which mixes electricity supplied from both renewable and non-renewable sources.

2. Origin Energy

Market cap: AU$11.11 billion; current share price: AU$6.23

Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) is an integrated energy company that has both renewable and non-renewable energy output. The company buys wind power from wind farms in Australia and is the nation's largest buyer of utility-scale solar. It also installs solar panels.

3. Mercury

Market cap: AU$7.55 billion; current share price: AU$5.21

Mercury (ASX:MCY) has wind farms, solar farms and combination wind-solar farms; it is also developing battery energy storage systems. Battery and power storage capabilities are essential elements for renewable energy.

4. Contact Energy

Market cap: AU$5.85 billion; current share price: AU$7.60

New Zealand-based Contact Energy (ASX:CEN) owns and operates 11 power stations and produces 80 to 85 percent of its electricity from its renewable hydro and geothermal stations.

5. Infrantil

Market cap: AU$5.57 billion; current share price: AU$7.49

Infrantil (ASX:IFT) is an infrastructure company that invests in energy, transport and social infrastructure, and has renewable investments in Trust Power, Longroad Energy, Gurin Energy and Galileo Green Energy.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ryan Sero, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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The gold price is trading lower than some market watchers would prefer, but the top-performing ASX gold stocks so far this year are making leaps.

Click here to read the previous best ASX gold stocks article.

While 2021 was a disappointing year for gold, analysts are optimistic about the outlook for 2022.

The yellow metal passed the US$2,000 per ounce mark as tensions between Russia and Ukraine heated up, but has since pulled back to trade closer to US$1,800. However, diverse factors could combine to push it higher.

Demand for gold jewellery, gold bars and coins, and the metal’s use in the technology sector are still going strong, and supply is also a growing concern due to decreased gold exploration efforts in recent years.


Against this backdrop, many Australian gold stocks are doing well. And with the precious metal generally considered a safe investment, it's worth being aware of the county's top-performing companies.

Here the Investing News Network looks at the best ASX gold stocks of the year so far by year-to-date gains. The list of stocks below was generated on April 29, 2022, using TradingView’s stock screener, and all companies included had market caps over AU$30 million at that time.

1. Xantippe Resources

Year-to-date gain: 180 percent; market cap: AU$107.3 million; current share price: AU$0.01

Xantippe Resources (ASX:XTC) is focused on Western Australia's Southern Cross region, which is widely known for its past gold production. The precious metals explorer's Southern Cross project is made up of 20 prospecting licences and six exploration licences, and holds a number of key priority targets.

In late April, Xantippe confirmed the acquisition of lithium tenements in Argentina with the hope of commencing exploration activities in the third quarter.

2. Minrex Resources

Year-to-date gain: 55.81 percent; market cap: AU$63.05 million; current share price: AU$0.07

Minrex Resources’ (ASX:MRR) assets include five gold and base metals projects in Western Australia, four of which are in the mineral-rich East Pilbara region.

The company started off the year with high-grade gold drill results from its work at the Queenslander gold prospect within its Sofala project. The prospect is centred around the past-producing Queenslander mine.

3. Aston Minerals

Year-to-date gain: 38.1 percent; market cap: AU$164.19 million; current share price: AU$0.15

Gold and nickel-cobalt explorer Aston Minerals (ASX:ASO) is moving forward at its Edleston gold project, located in the Cadillac-Larder Lake fault zone of Canada's Abitibi greenstone belt. Edleston is its flagship asset, and according to the company, it is the first in over a decade to drill in this area.

Aston continues to focus on gold at Edleston, but its Boomerang nickel-cobalt target has come to the forefront in recent months, with the company announcing the results of its maiden hole there in early December.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Marlee John, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects during the year's third financial quarter.

After hitting all-time highs in 2021, lithium prices started to stabilise in 2022's first quarter.

China’s lockdown measures to battle COVID-19 have disrupted the supply chain and impacted domestic demand in recent weeks, but this is expected to be temporary, according to William Adams of Fastmarkets.

“The lithium market is very tight. We don't see that easing anytime soon,” he said during a recent webinar about risks in the battery metals market. “We think the underlying fundamentals and the trends are still very strong.”


During the third quarter of the financial year, Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects, and despite the increased volatility in the markets, many ASX lithium stocks saw share price gains as well.

Perth-based Pilbara Minerals' (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF) production for the quarter was 81,431 dry metric tonnes (dmt), slightly down compared to the previous three months, but within guidance. The company said the main factor impacting output was higher COVID-19 cases, which resulted in staff and contractor shortages.

“COVID-19 has (and may continue in the near term) to cause operational delays, including staffing shortages for both shut-down and operating staff (mining and processing),” the company said in a statement. Even so, Pilbara has decided to maintain its production guidance in the range of 340,000 to 380,000 dmt.

During its fourth battery material exchange auction, the company saw the highest bid ever at US$5,650 per dmt for a cargo of 5,000 dmt of spodumene, showing the critical shortage in lithium raw material supply.

Western Australia-focused Pilbara, which owns the lithium-tantalum Pilgangoora operation, has partnerships with Ganfeng Lithium (OTC Pink:GNENF,SZSE:002460), General Lithium, Great Wall Motor Company (OTC Pink:GWLLF,HKEX:2333), POSCO (NYSE:PKX), CATL (SZSE:300750) and Yibin Tianyi.

Shares of Pilbara were trading at AU$2.53 on May 10, down 28.13 percent year-to-date, but up more than 100 percent compared to this time last year.

For its part, leading Australian lithium and iron ore miner Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN,OTC Pink:MALRF) saw its Mount Marion mine’s production reach 104,000 dmt during the quarter; it also shipped 94,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate. The company is maintaining its full-year production guidance at 450,000 to 475,000 dmt.

In April, Mineral Resources and partner Ganfeng agreed to optimise production and upgrade Mount Marion's processing facilities. Spodumene concentrate capacity at the operation is expected to increase from 450,000 dmt per year to 600,000 dmt annually.

“The decision to upgrade the plant reflects an expectation that the lithium market outlook will remain extremely strong for the foreseeable future,” the company said in a press release. A second stage increase, expected to be completed by the end of 2022, will see capacity rise further to reach 900,000 dmt.

Aside from Mount Marion, the company holds interests in Wodgina in partnership with another top producer — Albemarle (NYSE:ALB). The companies decided to restart Wodgina last year as a result of soaring global lithium demand. The mine produced its first spodumene concentrate on May 12.

“(We have) also agreed to review the state of the global lithium market towards the end of this calendar year to assess timing for the start-up of Train 3 and the possible construction of Train 4,” the company said. Each train has a nameplate capacity of 250,000 dmt of 6 percent product.

Mineral Resources’ share price was down 10.71 percent on May 10, trading at AU$52.71. That said, the stock is up 9.11 percent year-on-year.

During the March quarter, Argentina-focused Allkem (ASX:AKE,OTC Pink:OROCF) outlined its plans to increase lithium production threefold by 2026 and become a top three chemicals supplier.

In Western Australia, the company owns the Mount Cattlin mine, which produced 48,562 dmt of spodumene concentrate and shipped 66,011 tonnes in the March quarter.

“Strong conditions in the spodumene market are supporting advanced discussions for spodumene concentrate pricing in the June quarter of approximately US$5,000 per dmt SC6 percent CIF on sales of approximately 50,000 tonnes,” the company told investors in a note.

In Argentina, Allkem operates the Salar de Olaroz and is developing the Sal de Vida lithium brine. Additionally, in partnership with Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), Allkem is building a 10,000 tonne per year lithium hydroxide plant in Naraha, Japan. The company also owns the James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Canada.

On May 10, shares of Allkem were changing hands for AU$10.95, down 2.23 percent year-to-date, but up over 55 percent year-on-year.

Although its main focus is nickel, Independence Group (ASX:IGO) joined the lithium party last year after it bought a stake in Tianqi Lithium’s Australian assets. The companies, in joint venture, now control the majority of the biggest lithium mine in the world — Greenbushes.

Production at the mine was up 5 percent quarter-on-quarter at 270,464 tonnes of spodumene concentrate. By 2025, Greenbushes is expected to add around 800,000 tonnes per year to its output capacity.

IGO has seen its share price decline 4.63 percent year-to-date, trading at AU$11.34 on May 11. However, the stock is up 47.27 year-on-year.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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