Gladstone on Queensland’s central coast is positioned to have one of Australia’s first green hydrogen-powered passenger ferries after the state government promised $5 million from its $35 million Hydrogen Industry Development Fund (HIDF) for SeaLink to design and build the boat. The total cost of the project is estimated at $20.6 million.
SeaLink chief operating officer Donna Gauci said the vessel, that will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, would operate as a shuttle between Gladstone and LNG facilities on nearby Curtis Island.
“Using our extensive experience in sustainable transport solutions, we will design and construct a world-first internationally compliant hydrogen-powered passenger ferry to join our SeaLink Gladstone fleet operating out of the Gladstone marina,” she said.
“The new hydrogen-powered ferry will be a major addition to our passenger transport in Gladstone, capable of carrying up to 200 passengers and travelling at speeds of up to 20 knots (37kph) up to a range of 50 nautical miles.”
SeaLink is part of the Kelsian Group. One of Australia’s largest land and marine transport services, the group operates about 4,000 buses, 120 ferries and 24 light rail vehicles.
Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said the $5 million grant is the HIDF’s largest investment so far in the state’s growing hydrogen supply chain but a second round of grants would see about $20 million allocated to hydrogen projects.
“Projects are being progressed across Queensland from the north to the border with New South Wales and will keep bringing world-leading energy technology to Queensland because it creates opportunity for new jobs,” he said.
“We are creating a long-term, thriving domestic hydrogen ecosystem which will give some of the world’s largest companies access to competitively priced renewable energy options here on our shores.
“This is part of the Palaszczuk government’s commitment to a clean energy future, one where innovation drives economic growth and delivers highly skilled jobs for Queenslanders.”
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the ferry project is just the latest green hydrogen project announced for the Gladstone region which is expected to play a key role in the emerging industry because of its existing gas infrastructure.
“Gladstone is set to become one of Australia’s major hydrogen hubs and hydrogen-powered transport options are one of the diverse uses emerging for hydrogen,” he said.
Gladstone is also the site of Fortescue’s hydrogen electrolyser plant while state government-owned electricity generator Stanwell has teaming with a consortium of Australian and Japanese energy companies to investigate the commercial viability of developing a 3GW electrolysis plant with the view to producing green hydrogen for export to Japan and use in local industry.
London-based Eco Energy World has also announced plans for a 200MW green hydrogen plant with 100MW of energy storage in Gladstone while Japanese trading giant Sumitomo also plans to build a hydrogen production plant in the region.
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