Queensland is set to see a significant boost in its renewable hydrogen industry, with two new projects, to be located the traditional coal and gas hub of Gladstone, set to target opportunities in an emerging export market and the domestic supply of zero emissions gas.
Gladstone has been announced as the host of a new renewable hydrogen production hub, that will see the construction of a multi-billion dollar H2-Hub Gladstone facility that will produce renewable hydrogen as both a source of zero emissions gas and for use in the production of ammonia.
The Queensland government hopes the project will significantly boost exports of both renewable hydrogen and ammonia, and has bought a 171-hectare industrial site in Gladstone near existing energy export infrastructure.
The prospect of cost-effective hydrogen gas, produced using renewable electricity, has opened up the prospect of a zero emissions source that can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels used to supply the transport, industrial and domestic heating sectors.
The $1.61 billion H2-Hub, which is being developed by the company The Hydrogen Utility, will be constructed through a staged process, and could ultimately include electrolyser capacity of up to 3,000MW, producing renewable hydrogen and 5,000 tonnes of daily ammonia production.
“The integration of mature technologies – such as electrolysis and ammonia synthesis – at industrial scale, powered by 100 per cent renewable power supply, meets the emerging demand for decarbonised products in the energy, chemicals and mobility markets of North Asia”, CEO of The Hydrogen Utility Attilio Pigneri said.
The company sees Gladstone as an ideal location for a renewable hydrogen production and export hub, given the existing export infrastructure in the region for LNG production and export.
“Gladstone is an obvious choice for locating industrial-scale green hydrogen and ammonia facilities: its existing skill base, industrial port eco-system, and strategic location in the Queensland grid, all contribute to provide a unique springboard for the establishment of this new industry,” Pigneri added.
Gladstone has served as a significant hub for Australia’s fossil fuel export industry, being home to substantial coal and export facilities.
The Queensland government sees the investment in building hydrogen production capabilities as a way to diversify the region’s economy.
The National Hydrogen Strategy, prepared by chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel, found that the production of emissions free hydrogen has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar export opportunity for Australia.
“With green hydrogen and ammonia emerging as a strong, competitive energy source, we are really pleased that Gladstone is on the radar for companies seeking to establish large-scale industrial projects,” Queensland minister for state development Cameron Dick said.
“This will assist to diversify Gladstone’s economy and provide secure, ongoing operation jobs for workers and income for their families.”
The multi-billion dollar renewable hydrogen and ammonia production facility will be joined by a new gas injection facility, which will allow the emissions-free hydrogen produced in Gladstone to be blended with the city’s mains gas supply.
Australian Gas Networks will trial the injection of renewable hydrogen into Gladstone’s main gas network.
The facility will include its own hydrogen production equipment, including a 175kW electrolyser that will produce up to 20kg of hydrogen daily using renewable electricity using “certified green power from the local electricity grid.”
“Using renewable hydrogen, Australian Gas Networks will trial the blended hydrogen gas with a view to converting Gladstone’s network to hydrogen in the future,” Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, announcing the project at a Hydrogen Forum in Gladstone.
“The Queensland Government is working hard to drive the hydrogen industry forward, to create highly skilled jobs, especially in regional Queensland.”
The $4.2 million hydrogen injection facility has been supported by a grant provided under the Queensland government’s $15 million Hydrogen Industry Development Fund.
The plant will inject renewable hydrogen into the mains gas supply, servicing residential, industrial and commercial customers, offsetting the use of natural gas with a zero emissions energy supply.
It will be the first time that blended renewable hydrogen gas will be supplied to an entire township, supplying the city of Gladstone which has a total of 770 customers with mains gas containing up to 10 per cent renewable hydrogen.
The project will also provide opportunities for the ongoing training students through a partnership with the Central Queensland University and is expected to be operational before the end of 2021.
AGN has led similar hydrogen demonstration projects in South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria and recently launched the Australian Hydrogen Centre in Adelaide.
“This project supports Gladstone’s vision to be a key hub for Queensland’s domestic and hydrogen export industry, just as it is for natural gas today,” Australian Gas Networks CEO Ben Wilson said.
“Domestically, zero-carbon hydrogen offers a pathway to zero emissions from our gas networks and for transport, particularly heavy haulage. Australian Gas Infrastructure Group is a leading player in this transition with hydrogen projects now underway in four Australian states,” Wilson added.
Last week, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency announced that it had awarded $1.28 million in grant funding to support trials of the blending of hydrogen in South Australian and Victorian pipelines.
ARENA has previously provided funding to support the completion of a feasibility study into two massive renewable hydrogen projects in central Queensland, which would also see the zero emissions fuel used in the production of ammonia for export.