Gladstone in Queensland has been selected as the site for a proposed multi-billion chemical complex for the production of green hydrogen and ammonia at an industrial-scale.

The project is part of The Hydrogen Utility’s (H2U) push for Australia to become a hydrogen powerhouse.

H2U chief executive Dr Attilio Pigneri says the proposed H2-Hub will be built in stages to integrate up to 3 gigawatts in electrolysis plant and up to 5000 tonnes per day of ammonia production capacity.

Electrolysis is the process by which water is split into hydrogen and oxygen.

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“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,” Pigneri said.

“Japan for example, has developed a well-structured, 30-year plan to transition its energy economy, where green hydrogen and ammonia imports will play a key role in the decarbonisation of its power and industry sectors.”

Queensland Minister for State Development Cameron Dick welcomed the move, saying it could potentially create over 100 operational jobs and drive new exports for green hydrogen and ammonia.

“Through the Queensland Government’s land use planning and property development agency, Economic Development Queensland (EDQ), H2U have purchased a 171-hectare site at Yarwun in the Gladstone State Development Area, which is in close proximity to the (LNG) export precinct at Fisherman’s Landing,” Dick said.

“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.”

H2U will now move into master planning and detailed feasibility and is targeting to secure approvals by 2023, with first operation slated for 2025.

Separately, Australian Gas Networks (AGN) has secured $1.78m in grant funding from the Queensland government’s $15m Hydrogen Industry Development Fund (HIDF) for its $4.2m hydrogen plant in Gladstone.

This is part of the move towards making Gladstone the first entire city to use a blend of hydrogen and natural gas in its network.

Construction of the plant, which is expected to be Australia’s first renewable hydrogen production facility, will begin in November and is scheduled to become fully operational in December 2021.

Hydrogen Park Gladstone will produce about 20kg of hydrogen per day using certified green power from the local grid. The hydrogen will then be blended into the gas network.

The modular facility, which allows it to be scaled up readily, will include a 175-kilowatt Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) electrolyser, which cracks water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, a water demineralisation system and process cooling equipment.

“Queensland, and Australia as a whole, has the potential to be a renewable hydrogen superpower, with jobs and economic growth from supplying clean energy to regional and eventual metropolitan-wide markets,” AGN chief executive officer Ben Wilson said.

“The Gladstone plant can deliver a citywide proof-of-concept to enable implementation of blended hydrogen gas across regional cities in Australia, to be on a blend of natural gas and hydrogen.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said AGN’s trial was aimed at converting Gladstone’s gas network to hydrogen in the future.


Australia’s hydrogen push

This month has seen Australia ramp up its hydrogen economy ambitions with assembly starting on Australia’s first coal-to-hydrogen plant in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.

When complete, the plant will produce 84kg of hydrogen from 2 tonnes of raw coal daily.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing AGN with $1.28m in funding to investigate the blending of hydrogen into natural gas pipelines in South Australia and Victoria.

ARENA is also providing Yara Pilbara Fertilisers with $995,000 in funding to support a study into the production of renewable hydrogen and ammonia.

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