HYDROGEN production and export in the Gladstone region is a step closer to reality after five entities signed a memorandum of understanding for what they call a “Gladstone hydrogen ecosystem”.

The ecosystem will initially pursue domestic offtake and mobility before moving to enable large-scale export.

Signatories to the MOU include: Sumitomo Australia, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council, Australian Gas Networks as part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) and CQUniversity Australia.

GPC well-positioned for hydrogen export

GPC acting CEO Craig Walker said Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy and Queensland’s Hydrogen Strategy set a vision for a clean, innovative, safe and competitive industry that benefits all Australians.

“Australia is uniquely positioned to be a world class hydrogen energy generator and exporter,” he said.

“With an exceptional port and the ability for the region to develop an abundance of clean energy, Gladstone is positioned to be Australia’s leading hydrogen export location by 2030.”

A three-phased plan

The MOU, signed at Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre, sets out a three-phased plan, commencing in next month, with the key end goal by 2030 to see hydrogen exported from Gladstone to the world.

Queensland energy, hydrogen and renewables minister Mick de Brenni said the collaboration shows international confidence in Queensland as a global destination for investment and as a future reliable renewable energy exporter.

“Today’s signing is a major endorsement of international investor confidence, that a global corporation in Sumitomo is working with Queensland and local companies to deliver renewable hydrogen,” Mr de Brenni said.

“We know countries around the world, like Japan, have mandated decarbonisation and set clear targets – and they’re looking to Queensland for help to meet them.”

Mr de Brenni said with access to existing water and gas pipeline infrastructure and publicly owned ports giving crucial access to domestic and international markets, Queensland is well placed to supply renewable hydrogen to the world, and Sumitomo recognises this.

“Gladstone’s Hydrogen Ecosystem project will prove supply chains and grow a domestic hydrogen market, with the ultimate prize being more Queensland exports from right here in Gladstone,” he said.

Sumitomo executive officer Hajime Mori said the company is proud to champion building the Hydrogen Ecosystem in the Gladstone region.

“With exceptional solar radiance and sophisticated regional partners and infrastructure, Gladstone is a unique world class location for renewable hydrogen production and regional utilisation with significant export potential,” Mr Mori said.

From domestic use to export

Gladstone region mayor Matt Burnett said he welcomes the development to the region, supporting the scale up from domestic generation and use to large-scale generation and export.

“From a community perspective this is great news for our region,” Mr Burnett said.

“We are perfectly positioned to establish Australia’s first hydrogen ecosystem, and we have five parties that are fully committed to seeing this through to fruition. Gladstone has an excellent track record for development, the early opportunities in domestic gas offtake and mobility are very exciting.”

Yoshikazu Ishikawa, managing director of Sumitomo Australia said the three-phased approach allowed tangible milestones, positioning Gladstone as an industry leader in hydrogen use and technology.

“Uniquely positioned with a world-class port, exceptional solar radiance, skills, knowledge and technology, Gladstone is a strategic location with significant hydrogen potential to benefit both Australia and Japan,” he said.

Existing gas infrastructure for hydrogen

AGIG CEO Ben Wilson said building on its existing partnership with the Queensland government would bring it closer to converting its gas networks to renewable hydrogen.

“Hydrogen Park Gladstone is an important stepping stone to achieving our vision for full network decarbonisation with hydrogen across the regions we serve,” he said.

“The project aims to blend up to 10% hydrogen into Gladstone’s entire existing gas network with plans to be fully operational next year.”

Professor Nick Klomp, Vice-Chancellor and President of CQUniversity said that the University is keen to further develop its capabilities in the hydrogen space through purpose-built facilities that support training, teaching and research and development.

“CQUniversity is ready to play an active role in the emerging hydrogen fuel and renewable technology sectors, and there is no better place to strengthen our capability and partnerships than right here in Gladstone,” Mr Klomp said.

“The university is rapidly developing its research expertise and training capability within hydrogen and advanced manufacturing, and we are committed to working with our partners to support their current and emerging workforce and technical needs.”

Minister for regional development and manufacturing and member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said Central Queensland would continue to play a key role in meeting global hydrogen demand.

“By 2030, Queensland will need a fully integrated, export-scale hydrogen supply chain if we are to meet the demand from countries like Japan,” Mr Butcher said.

“Fortunately, Gladstone has an outstanding record in the development of energy exports from a standing start, considering we grew our $70-billion LNG industry in just under a decade.”