With ambitions to establish Australia as a key player in the global hydrogen export market, the federal government has announced a $70 million investment to support the development of the Townsville Region Hydrogen Hub program in northern Queensland.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the funding injection, which the government expects will be matched by the private sector, will encourage innovation and the production of affordable clean hydrogen to meet the needs of a growing domestic and export market.
“This isn’t a niche industry,” he said. “Australia is already one of the largest exporters of energy in the world; a thriving hydrogen industry here in North Queensland will be critical for us to become a renewable energy superpower as well.”
“This is something that will make an enormous difference to Australia’s economy.”
The government said creating a hydrogen industry in Australia could generate $50 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050 while directly generating 16,000 jobs as well as another 13,000 positions for workers needed to build renewable energy projects needed to manufacture green hydrogen.
“The hub will help secure jobs and economic growth in Queensland, and could also pave the way for exports to our valued trading partners in Japan, South Korea and across Asia,” Albanese said.
The federal government funding will form part of a $140 million pool, with eligible organisations able to apply for grants of $30 million to $70 million to develop and deliver green hydrogen projects in the Townsville region.
Grants will be available under an open and competitive application process when applications open in March 2023. Applicants will be assessed in an initial open competitive process, followed by a formal application process for shortlisted applicants.
The Townsville region has already attracted the attention of both Australian and international renewables developers with Edify Energy planning to build and operate a green hydrogen production plant of up to 1 GW about 40 kilometres south of the city.
Queensland-based Ark Energy, a subsidiary of Korea Zinc, the world’s largest producer of zinc, is also pursuing plans to develop a renewable hydrogen facility in the region. The SunHQ hydrogen hub, which will be equipped with a 1 MW electrolyser, is to be located next to Korea Zinc’s existing zinc refinery.
The region’s port facilities, workforce capacity, and nearby renewable energy and sustainable water resources make it an ideal location for a green hydrogen hub. Townsville’s proximity to Asian markets ensure there is also significant export potential.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the federal government’s investment in hydrogen hubs now stands at more than $525 million, including the $454 million Regional Hydrogen Hubs program for projects in places like Gladstone, the Hunter Valley, the Pilbara, Port Bonython and Bell Bay.
Bowen said the government is also investing $89.5 million to help the transport sector make the switch to hydrogen, including through hydrogen refuelling stations along Australia’s busiest freight routes.
“Green hydrogen will play a crucial role in Australia’s clean energy transformation and create jobs for technicians, tradespeople and engineers, as well as significant opportunities in related businesses and service industries,” he said. “These regional hubs will give our green hydrogen industry an early-stage springboard to scale, which will help to promote further growth and investment in clean technology.”
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It needs innovation but science is a pretty hard puzzle to solve in regards to storage and containment and the pointless pursuit of transporting hydrogen rather than creating it where industry already is.
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