Paul Hodgson

CQUniversity has recently appointed Paul Hodgson as it new Director of Centre for Hydrogen and Renewable Energies. Here, the new Director shares his vision to cultivate world-class expertise and support the industry as we transition towards hydrogen and clean energy.

A new leader is at the helm of CQUniversity’s Centre for Hydrogen and Renewable Energies (CHRE).

Paul Hodgson has stepped into the recently vacated director role and already hit the ground running.

“I have been amazed by the breadth of energy transition research happening right across the network of CQUniversity campuses,” Mr Hodgson said.

“I want to find ways to link and showcase the great research happening. Having a whole-of-CQU view and approach is important to best position CHRE as a facilitator, connector and promoter as well as a doer.”

Mr Hodgson has also assumed the position of Executive Director Regional Futures – Energy Transitions. 

“I have a background of working with Central Queensland stakeholders on innovation, regional development, hydrogen, energy, sustainability and supply chain development.

“My previous roles have also given me insights into innovative technologies and opportunities from across the globe,” Mr Hodgson explained.

“Central Queensland has an almost unique opportunity to show the world how to achieve regional industrial decarbonisation.”

Embracing the transition

With a vision to cultivate world-class expertise to empower industry partners and new industry clients, Mr Hodgson said he will support a range of stakeholders as they embrace the transition to hydrogen and other clean energy.

“Central Queensland is an industrial and energy powerhouse with many companies covered by the Federal Government’s Safeguard Mechanism,” Mr Hodgson said. 

“Keeping existing employers in the region in a net zero world and attracting new industries will be key to the success of the region.

“With emission intensive industry in Liquefied natural gas (LNG), coal, mineral processing, chemicals, cement, electricity generation, and food production, it would be easy to focus on the challenges ahead. 

“However, with renewable energy advantages in wind, solar, bioenergy and fuels, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), and green hydrogen, ammonia and methanol, those challenges represent significant opportunities for economic diversification.”

He said that a key focus in the region will be how this can be utilised for economic and social prosperity for its communities.

“CQUniversity already has a number of MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) and we’ll be looking to expand on that to develop long-term partnerships, supporting industry and government achieve their energy transition goals and commercial opportunities.” Mr Hodgson said. 

“Increased training, education and research in Central Queensland can catalyse high value and sustainable local jobs and business opportunities, replacing the typical boom-bust cycle of construction-led project activity.

“The region already has leading small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) supplying products and services globally and we will look to help them scale through the significant investment coming to the region over the coming decades.

Mr Hodgson is based in Brisbane but will be spending a considerable amount of time in Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton and Mackay, providing him with a comprehensive view of what is happening in the sector across Central Queensland, but also with ready access to government and industry decision-makers who aren’t based in the region.

A long-standing supporter of CQUniversity

Immediately prior to commencing at CQUniversity, Mr Hodgson was the interim CEO of a bid for a Scaling Green Hydrogen Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), where he secured $163 million in cash and in-kind support from 97 partners, including CQUniversity. 

“When the CRC bid wasn’t successful for Commonwealth Government funding in December 2023, I jumped at the chance to work with CQUniversity to continue the important work required to realise the significant economic and social opportunity for our regions,” he said. 

Mr Hodgson is a proud CQUniversity alumnus, where he completed a Masters in Sustainable Development in 2004.

Driving sustainability and innovation

As a strong advocate for further education, Mr Hodgson also holds a Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training, is a Certified Advisory Board Chair, an Australian Certified Economic Developer, and a Certified Developer of Enterprise.

“I have always been driven by a sense of purpose, curiosity, variety, and a desire to help others.

“In the early 2000s, I noticed a growing trend for social and environmental outcomes in the research and development, innovation and commercialisation work I was doing. This motivated me to enrol with CQUniversity and further my knowledge in the sustainability space. 

“My studies allowed me to build upon the core values of sustainability, to drive innovation and address sustainability challenges within the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. The program increased my understanding and skills in systems thinking, community development and the importance of collaboration to deliver shared value.”

This led Mr Hodgson to start a sustainability, innovation, and clean energy consulting business soon after graduating.

“Over the last 20 years, I’ve undertaken a lot of work in clean energy such as helping establish a Clean Energy Innovation Centre, a Clean Technology venture capital pipeline for the Queensland Government, a national network of regional hydrogen technology clusters, and helped universities and businesses secure grants for a wide range of clean energy and innovation projects,” Mr Hodgson said.

“As a passionate regional economic developer, I am keen to see the benefits of clean energy, hydrogen and decarbonisation investments deliver sustained economic and social benefits for regional communities.” 

Mr Hodgson said he was looking forward to what lies ahead as he drives innovation and research within CHRE. 

“There is a fantastic opportunity for CQUniversity to play a leadership role in the development of the hydrogen and renewable energy sectors, to help diversify and transform our regions, but also help create sustainable economic and social prosperity from the interest that the world has in investing in Central Queensland.

“I’ve continually sought opportunities where I can learn and have impact. I want to help set a clear vision for the centre; attract, develop and nurture talent; build strong internal and external partnerships, and map a plan for high quality and impactful research that delivers for our stakeholders,” he said. 

“No one organisation can do this alone. We’ll be looking to build alliances and partnerships to co-create a positive future for all stakeholders.”

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