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A historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with a Japanese multinational for a new hydrogen ecosystem in Gladstone.

Sumitomo Australia, Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC), Gladstone Regional Council (GRC), Australian Gas Networks (AGN) as part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG),  and CQUniversity Australia (CQU) have joined forces to explore opportunities to develop a hydrogen ecosystem in Gladstone. 

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

GPC Acting CEO, Craig Walker, said Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy and Queensland’s Hydrogen Strategy sets 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,” Mr Walker 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.”

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

“From a community perspective this is great news for our region,” Mayor 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.”

The MOU, signed at the Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre, sets out a three-phased plan, commencing in 2021, with the key end goal by 2030 to see hydrogen exported from Gladstone to the world.

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

“Sumitomo Australia is pleased to be working with an esteemed group of stakeholders who share our common vision of a Hydrogen Ecosystem in Gladstone. 

“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.”

AGIG’s CEO, Ben Wilson, said “We are proud to build on our existing partnership with the Queensland Government on Hydrogen Park Gladstone (HyP Gladstone) to bring us further closer to our vision to convert our gas networks and cities to renewable hydrogen.

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

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

“AGIG is excited to be participating in this important project with these key strategic partners and is looking forward to supporting Gladstone’s vision to be a key hub for Queensland’s domestic and hydrogen export industry, just as it is for natural gas today.”

With the intention to see hydrogen utilised and broadly adopted within the region, CQU said it is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with major industries in the region on transitioning equipment and vehicles to hydrogen power.

Professor Nick Klomp, Vice-Chancellor and President of CQUniversity, said that the university is keen to further develop its capabilities in this space through purpose-built facilities that support bespoke 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,” Professor 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.”

Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, 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.

“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.”

Sumitomo Corporation’s Executive Officer, Hajime Mori, said Sumitomo Corporation is proud to be championing building the Hydrogen Ecosystem in the Gladstone region alongside such esteemed stakeholders.

“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.

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.

“The development of a modern, world-leading energy sector is critical to growing Queensland manufacturing and sustaining our resources sector.” 

The Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem design study is targeted to commence in April 2021.

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