Paving a future for hydrogen in Australia: Meet Jorrit Gosens

12 May 2020

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Crawford School introduces our fantastic staff, so you can meet the people of Asia and the Pacific’s leading graduate policy school.

This time around, we talk to Dr Jorrit Gosens, who has just joined Crawford’s Centre for Climate and Energy Policy as a Research Fellow. Jorrit discusses his research into whether hydrogen could be an alternative for regions with industries in decline, and tells us how to make mapo tofu that will make your mouth go numb.

Why did you choose to work at Crawford School?

It’s a great school with a great reputation, especially also for China-related research. I did my PhD in Beijing and came across Crawford School, and ANU more generally, plenty of times during that period. And the location is great. Australia was certainly high up on my list of places to go see, and I’m really happy with how easy it is to get out for some biking or hiking here. I haven’t seen Sydney or Melbourne yet, but I’m sure Canberra is a nicer place to live.

Can you tell us a bit more about how your research matters?

I research energy transitions, right now focused on both China’s role in renewable energy industries, and the development of an Australian hydrogen industry. For the latter I am trying to figure out if and how regions with industries in decline, for example coal mining regions, may or may not be very well suited to the development of hydrogen production and hydrogen-based manufacturing clusters. I’m hopeful we will be able to develop a sensible set of policy recommendations on those issues.

If you could go back and choose a different career path, what would it be?

Any job in motorsport. Like many kids I dreamt of being a racing driver plenty of times, but a job as a mechanic or engineer would seem quite exciting as well. I’m also a bit conflicted about this, because part of the energy transition will mean doing away with internal combustion engines, and I’m a big proponent of higher bicycle use. Still, like many others I also connect the smell of oil and petrol with speed and excitement, so it feels like a bit of a sacrifice.

Can you tell us about a feel-good dish that you or someone in your family makes in stressful times?

That would be mapo tofu, a Chinese dish I make quite regularly. The tofu itself doesn’t have much flavour, but the basic sauce is made of spicy fermented beans plus chili oil, and you can add some chopped fresh chili or some dried chili flakes to taste, and then some Szechuan peppercorns. Basically, your mouth is on fire until you bite a few of the Szechuan peppercorns, and then your mouth just goes numb. Delicious.

Can you give us your top three tips about how to stay positive during the COVID-19 outbreak?

I start my day with a short walk, just five or 10 minutes around the block, but every day. And about every other day I go for a ride on my mountain bike, late in the afternoon. So, get out of the house, and don’t just walk the five steps from your bed to your desk.

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