Renewable hydrogen gets a $5m kickstart
Renewable hydrogen could become a flagship industry in Townsville with a $5 million grant to kickstart the sustainable power source in the region.
Sun Metals will build North Queensland's first renewable hydrogen plant, which is part of the company's long-term integrated operation at its Stuart home.
CEO Kiwon Park said this was the first stage of developing the clean and renewable fuel in Townsville.
"The first phase of our hydrogen project will only be the beginning of developing a substantial renewable hydrogen industry based in Townsville that we hope in the long term will create export opportunities," Mr Park said.
"The hydrogen project is part of Sun Metals' long-term plans for a totally integrated operation including our zinc refinery, solar farm and other operations at Stuart."
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said the renewable energy, which involves storing water, wind, tidal and wave energy in a safe form of hydrogen gas made from water, showed great promise in North Queensland.
"The work being done here in Townsville will give us critical information about the integration of renewable hydrogen for different applications - like the use of the renewable for heavy vehicles," he said.
The project is expected to create almost 40 jobs during construction and ongoing operation of the facility, which will be integral to the region's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Mundingburra MP Coralee O'Rourke said.
"This project will establish the region's first renewable hydrogen supply chain and depending on the final scale, will deliver more than 25 local jobs during construction and 12 ongoing jobs once it's up and running," she said
Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper said Townsville was well-placed to service the emerging industry, which had the potential to create long-term jobs for the region.
State Development Minister Kate Jones said Sun Metals would build the new facility with a grant from the State Government's $15 million Hydrogen Development Fund.
"Hydrogen has huge potential to pump millions of dollars into our economy and create jobs for workers in Townsville," she said.
The fund had attracted 23 expressions of interest, which Ms Jones said reflected the importance of the industry's future in Queensland.
Mr Park says Townsville will reap the long-term benefits of hydrogen production as it aims to become a world leader in producing the green gas.
Already home to existing infrastructure and skilled labour to begin the process, Mr Park said Townsville's ultimate goal of exporting hydrogen to the world is more than just a dream.
He spruiked North Queensland as one of the best places to start production, with Townsville's direct access to the port helping to make it an ideal location.
"Townsville will see enormous benefits with this hydrogen," Mr Park said.
"If we kick-off our hydrogen production and utilisation of our equipment and plant, people will understand what hydrogen is, (and how it) can easily spread to the community."
It's also hoped the innovation in Townsville will provide training opportunities for universities and tertiary educators in the region.
GREEN hydrogen is set to be produced in Townsville, but what are the benefits of producing the much-hyped gas?
Creating green hydrogen is achieved through an electrolysis process, taking water and splitting it to get hydrogen and oxygen atoms to create usable hydrogen as a power source or fuel.
With a renewable source of solar energy and a long-term supply of recycled water, as well as a demin plant on site to make that water pure for best results, Sun Metals is well placed with existing infrastructure to become a world leader in production.
Sun Metals director of innovation Mark Pope said producing hydrogen had multiple benefits. "The hydrogen sweet spot is where batteries are not strong," he said. "So heavy vehicle application or high-use application is where hydrogen is really good."
Hydrogen would eventually replace diesel fuel, which Australia is reliant on importing from overseas.
It could also be pumped into the grid and used as a power source, however that's not currently commercially viable.
Originally published as Renewable hydrogen gets a $5m kickstart