Sarawak inks MoU with Aussie uni to explore hydrogen economy


Muhammad Abdullah and Quester are seen during a photo call. Standing at centre is Dr Sim, while Deputy Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government II (Local Government) Michael Tiang is at second right.

KUCHING (March 15): The Sarawak government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne today to explore the hydrogen economy.

According to a press statement, the state government and Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2), which is led by Swinburne and funded by the Victorian State Government of Australia, intend to work together on the hydrogen economy and its development in Sarawak.

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This also includes connecting both parties more widely within the global hydrogen supply chain and ecosystem.

VH2 is a collaboration between Swinburne, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and Germany’s Arena 2036 to explore new business models, seek community insights into the applications of hydrogen, investigate the regulatory and safety requirements, identify the training needs of the future workforce, and develop new technologies, products, and services that will create jobs and strengthen local industry.

Arena 2036 has German partners that include renowned companies such as Bosch, Siemens, BMW, and Daimler.

Deputy Premier of Sarawak Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian witnessed the MoU signing ceremony, which took place at Swinburne’s campus in Hawthorn.

The MoU was signed by Sarawak Economic Planning Unit director Datu Dr Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel and Swinburne president and vice-chancellor Prof Pascale Quester.

Dr Sim said Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg’s vision is for Sarawak to be the main clean hydrogen producing hub in the region in its quest to develop a hydrogen-driven economy for Sarawak.

“Security of energy supply and climate change represent two major concerns about the future of the energy sector, which give rise to the challenge of finding the best way to rein in emissions while also providing the energy required to sustain economies.

“Hydrogen is attractive because whether it is burned to produce heat or reacted with air in a fuel cell to produce electricity, the only byproduct is water,” he said.

Through this MoU, both parties hope to address research and human capital challenges and support sustainable manufacturing practices as well as support the ability to store clean energy from renewable sources and strive to create a sustainable future for all.

The collaboration will focus on research and innovation for the hydrogen economy through industry-led research and innovation programmes, industry linkage research programmes such PhD, master’s and so on, entrepreneurship programmes, global industry exchange programmes and IP commercialisation; human capital development for the hydrogen economy by creating new hydrogen skills and training programmes; programmes around regulations, safety, and technology for the hydrogen economy and hydrogen readiness programme; Industry 4.0 Testbed for Hydrogen Manufacturing and supply chain by creating a physical demonstration and training site for hydrogen technologies, their implementation, maintenance, and safety, cyber-physical (digital twins) of hydrogen production, transportation, and use situations to demonstrate the supply chain opportunities and partnerships; and Global Hydrogen Connectivity through technology adoption, adaptation, and demonstration; globally aligned policy and regulatory frameworks, investment and partnerships, targeted micro small medium enterprises (MSMEs) development and new businesses and services in the hydrogen economy.

Muhammad Abdullah said renewable energy is one of the key growth economic sectors of the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 and clean hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier and feedstock that can allow the energy and industrial sectors to achieve deep decarbonisation.

“Barriers to market activation stem from a lack of supporting infrastructure and the cost of hydrogen supply.

“However, both barriers can be overcome via a series of strategic partnerships and investments along the value chain from both the private and public sectors,” he said.

He pointed out that through this partnership, the Sarawak government is looking forward to growing cooperation in the hydrogen economy, especially in Research and Innovation, Human Capital Development, Industry 4.0 Testbed for Hydrogen Manufacturing and Supply Chain, and Global Hydrogen Connectivity.