Australia's chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel says our cars will soon run on renewable energy.

In the aftermath of a political fight over the future of transport in Australia, with Labor pushing for an electric car target and the LNP insisting it will somehow end the age of the ute, Dr Finkel says electric cars — powered by batteries or hydrogen — are the certainly the future.

He says batteries will most likely cover short trips in cities, while hydrogen could replace diesel as the preferred fuel for longer journeys.

“The difference is that hydrogen is a higher-density fuel compared to batteries,” he said.

“[Hydrogen powered electric cars] are coming online and will be available this year or next, that will be able to drive nearly 2,000 kilometres with a full payload.

“That's not practical for a battery-electric vehicle.

“For long-distance heavy-duty vehicles I think hydrogen electric is the way to go but around town, battery-electric vehicles have the convenience that you can charge them at home.”

He said that he has owned an electric car in Melbourne for over six years, but only ever had to charge it in his garage.

Speaking at the NT Smart Energy Summit & Expo in Darwin, Dr Finkel also talked about the potential to export hydrogen gas.

As nations around the world look to clean-burning hydrogen gas, he says Australia should use its considerable industry knowledge and vast renewable resources to fill that demand.

“I'm seeing strong interest and awareness of the opportunity to use hydrogen domestically,” Dr Finkel said.

“But also very strong awareness of the enormous opportunity the Territory has to be an exporter supplying hydrogen, clean hydrogen, around the world.”