One of Australia’s most respected political voices, former Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, has agreed to head the board of a resource sector innovator hoping to have a significant impact on climate change goals.
Gold Hydrogen Limited is leading the world-wide hunt for naturally-produced and carbon-free hydrogen, and has picked up the country’s first exploration tenement, covering the lower half of the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.
Mr Downer, also Australia’s long-time High Commissioner to Britain, has become Gold Hydrogen’s chairman as it moves closer to a share market listing later this year.
With the Federal election proving Australians’ desire for action on climate change has never been higher, the race for alternate fuels is gathering pace with hydrogen production ramping up.
Gold Hydrogen, which wants to prove hydrogen exists in the Earth’s crust in this country at commercial volumes, has modelling that says it could produce the gas carbon-free at up to a third of the cost of solar and other hydrogen producers.
The strong possibility of finding a cheap carbon-zero fuel source is what pushed Mr Downer to join the board.
“There’s no doubt the climate change movement has unstoppable momentum,’’ Mr Downer said. ‘’How we get meaningful action in this country while making sure we keep the lights on is the big question.
‘’It will take innovators like Gold Hydrogen, which could produce carbon-zero gas at less than $1 a kilogram compared to the about $4 to $6 that green hydrogen from solar and wind producers are currently costing, to make that possible.’’
The former Liberal leader, who has long worried about the cost of achieving needed climate change goals, said he was getting involved in a company that could be a game changer.
‘’Unless projects like this come off, our journey to carbon zero will be as costly and bumpy as it has been lengthy.’’
Significantly, Gold Hydrogen were first movers and had the only granted permit for natural hydrogen exploration in this country, he said.
Brisbane-based Gold Hydrogen recently completed a pre-IPO fundraising round that was well over-subscribed. Plans for a share market listing are in train.
It has promising historical drilling records for its South Australian project, showing hydrogen at 80 per cent purity existed at sites that were being test drilled for oil. The SA Department for Energy and Mining has confirmed the hydrogen finds and says fairy circles found in the region, indicating hydrogen or gas-venting from underground, are another hopeful sign.
The South Australian Government amended the state’s resources act last year to declare hydrogen a regulated substance, and Gold Hydrogen was the first to move.
Gold Hydrogen director Neil McDonald has said the project would be a giant leap forward.
“Gold hydrogen would be nirvana to energy companies – a cheap energy source without the carbon emission problem – incredible.
“Early modelling shows the South Australia field could produce enough hydrogen to power a million homes for 40 years.’’
Naturally-produced hydrogen is only being harvested for commercial use in one country, Mali, and Mr McDonald said Mr Downer’s appointment was a real vote of confidence in the Australian project.
‘’Wherever we go, people ask: ‘You really think you can find hydrogen in the Earth?’ The answer is people have already found it and are using it. And it exists here.’’
The fundraising so far conducted will allow Gold Hydrogen to start a geophysical exploration program including airborne surveys, soil surveys, seismic reprocessing and studies with CSIRO and Schlumberger.
Gold Hydrogen’s joint founder and geologist, Luke Titus, has been looking globally at the geological conditions supportive of the presence of natural hydrogen and came up with a number of possible hydrogen-prospective areas, and South Australia was on the list.
A check of archives found the earlier hydrogen results, back when they had no planned use for it.
Mr McDonald said no groundwork would take place until they engaged with relevant stakeholders and landholders.
The Gold Hydrogen board is now five-strong.
Alongside Mr Downer is independent director Kate Barnet (Sydney, a financial professional and Chartered Accountant, currently at Olvera Advisors) and executive directors Mr McDonald and Mr Titus (the two company founders), and COO Roger Cressey, who has 35 years’ experience in resources industries, predominantly gas exploration and production.
Read The Australian’s coverage here.
The board of Gold Hydrogen. L-R: Karl Schlobohm, Katherine Barnet, Neil McDonald, Luke Titus, Alexander Downer and Roger Cressey