Green hydrogen gives Australia an opportunity to slash our emissions — and if we get this right, the impact could be nothing short of nation-building, argues business leader Andrew Forrest in the first of his ABC Boyer Lectures.

Hydrogen is the most common element in existence. In fact, the universe is 75 per cent hydrogen by mass — so we’ll never run out of it.

It’s also the simplest. To make it, all you need to do is run electricity through water.

That’s green hydrogen, the purest source of energy in the world — and one that could replace up to three quarters of our emissions, if we improve the technology and had the scale.

But right now, we don’t use it for energy. It’s “just” an ingredient used in industrial processes. And we make it from fossil fuels, quaintly calling it “grey” hydrogen, to hide the fact that it’s a pollutant.

“Green” hydrogen — the good stuff — is virtually ignored by the economic world.