HYDROGEN TO MEET GLOBAL ENERGY NEEDS: AUSTRALIAN MINISTER
Hydrogen power will eventually solve the world's impending energy crisis, federal Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said today.
Mr Macfarlane said the Middle East's stranglehold on oil and the rapid depletion of the world's fossil fuels exemplifies the need for a long-term energy solution.
In Brisbane for the Austmine Mining Innovation from Downunder Conference, Mr Macfarlane said he believed hydrogen fast fusion technology, currently under development in the United States, was the only viable alternative energy source.
He said the advantages of hydrogen, which releases explosive energies through a reaction with oxygen contained in fuel cells, include its abundance, non-toxicity and renewable and non-polluting qualities.
An economically viable method of producing and storing the energy is yet to be found.
"I think it will be the long-term solution," Mr Macfarlane said.
He said not only would hydrogen fast fusion have the potential to power the world's cities, but could produce a petrol replacement for future car generations.
"(In the short term) you're going to see better use of renewables, geosequestration (clean coal technology) and perhaps a better reliance on nuclear," Mr Macfarlane said.
"But at some stage there's got to be a long-term answer on energy."
Mr Macfarlane said, however, that Australia alone had a coal supply large enough to last 200 years.
He said with this in mind, the nation had concentrated most of its efforts on clean coal technology.
This involves burying its carbon dioxide waste under the ground rather than releasing it into the atmosphere and adding to the greenhouse effect.
He said while nuclear power also could not be ruled out as a viable method of extending the world's current power supply, a community driven debate was required on the entire nuclear energy cycle.
"Nuclear is a social as well as an industry issue and until you resolve the issue of where you're putting your nuclear waste - then it's pointless talking about nuclear power stations," he said.
(Someone, please send Minister Ian Macfarlane a physics primer!)