Green light for Queensland renewable hydrogen project


The Queensland government has confirmed green hydrogen will be produced on the Darling Downs in less than two years with a ‘unique’ demonstration facility capable of producing an estimated 50,000 kilograms of solar-powered renewable hydrogen each year to be operating before the end of 2023.

Queensland Energy minister Mick de Brenni said the Kogan Hydrogen Demonstration Plant, to be developed by government-owned generator CS Energy, will go ahead after a successful feasibility study with Japanese industrial giant IHI Corporation Japan.

De Brenni said the facility would be built beside the existing Kogan Creek Power Station and would include the co-location of a solar farm, battery energy storage system, hydrogen electrolyser and a hydrogen fuel cell.

The minister said the project was unique because the facility will be powered exclusively by behind-the-meter solar energy, making it one of the few truly green hydrogen projects in Australia.

De Brenni said the project has already attracted “strong interest” from potential domestic off-takers.

“The Kogan Creek project is an opportunity for publicly owned CS Energy to stake its territory in the hydrogen sector and expand Queenslanders’ ownership of renewable energy assets,” he said.

“Better yet, CS Energy are looking to support the decarbonisation of the heavy transport and haulage market with their locally produced zero emission fuel and discussions are well advanced with multiple potential off-takers.”

Queensland Energu minister Mick de Brenni (centre) checks out the site.

Image: CS Energy

CS Energy chief executive officer Andrew Bills said the feasibility study had confirmed the optimum design of the renewable hydrogen plant and that Kogan Creek Power Station was a good location with existing assets and plenty of space for expansion opportunities.

“This project offers multiple benefits for CS Energy because of hydrogen’s ability to be used as both a fuel and as a way to store energy,” he said.

“In addition to selling hydrogen into the domestic market, CS Energy can use the plant’s battery to provide grid stability services in the Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) Market.”

Construction on the Kogan Creek facility is expected to commence in 2022 with commissioning scheduled in early 2023.

The announcement comes amid a flurry of green hydrogen activity in the Sunshine State.

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) on Monday announced plans to establish a 2 GW green hydrogen manufacturing facility near Gladstone in central Queensland.

That was followed by FFI teaming with fertiliser and chemical manufacturer Incitec Pivot to announce that they will “assess whether industrial scale manufacturing of green ammonia at Gibson Island is technically and commercially feasible on an existing brownfield site”.

The two companies will examine whether a new electrolysis plant at Incitec’s Gibson Island facility near Brisbane can produce about 50,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year, which would then be converted into green ammonia for Australian and export markets.

FFI and Incitec will look at the feasibility of converting the existing facility, which currently produces more than 300,000 tonnes of ammonia each year, from natural gas to green hydrogen.

Incitec CEO Jeanne Johns said the partnership was considered one of Australia’s best near-term opportunities to produce green ammonia at an industrial scale.

“We’re excited to partner with FFI who are committed to producing zero-emission hydrogen from 100% renewable sources,” she said.

“The combination of FFI’s drive to develop a globally competitive green hydrogen industry, and our leadership and technical skills in ammonia production, will play an important role in developing Australia’s capability in this growing international market.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Fortescue Fuure Industries’ Andrew Forrest

Image: FFI

That announcement was followed on Tuesday by resource sector heavyweight Rio Tinto signing a statement of cooperation with the Queensland government to investigate off-take agreements for large-scale renewable energy projects to power its assets, including the Boyne Island aluminium smelter near Gladstone.

Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive officer Ivan Vella said the company, the state’s largest energy user, is ideally positioned to work with the government in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“We are working closely with the Queensland government on the role we can play by underwriting long-term green offtake for our industrial assets,” he said.

“This should help create the industrial demand needed to develop a globally competitive green energy solution and lead to more processing and manufacturing in central Queensland.”

The mining giant is the first partner to join the multi-signatory statement with Deputy Premier Steven Miles saying government is determined to work with industry to find ways to build more renewable energy faster.

“This will be a multi-signatory statement which will ensure that Central Queensland becomes one of the first regions in the world to benefit from the massive growth in demand for renewable energy,” he said.

“This will demonstrate Queensland’s capability and attract investors looking to use clean energy to create their futures and the jobs that come with it.”

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