Govt green-lights Townsville hydrogen hub

Brandon How

Australian renewables developer Edify Energy has been awarded a $48.2 million grant to develop the Townsville Green Hydrogen Hub, the final hub expected to receive funding under the Regional Hydrogen Hubs Program.

The grant is part of a larger $70 million federal government support package, first announced by the federal government in 2022 and confirmed on Tuesday. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) awarded $20.7 million to the project at the start of 2023.

Overall, the project is backed by $137 million worth of government and industry commitments, including a €16.4 million ($27 million) commitment from the German government.

The hub, which will be located in the Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct near Townsville, Queensland, will feature a 17.6 MW electrolyser facility in its first stage of development.

It will initially produce 800 tonnes of green hydrogen per annum. The aim is to ramp capacity to 1GW and to export hydrogen globally through the Port of Townsville.

Digital render of the Edify-led Townsville Hydrogen Hub. Image: Edify

Construction is expected to begin in 2025 and finish in 2026. However, initial commercial operations are only scheduled to start in 2027.

Siemens Energy, Queensland TAFE, James Cook University and Townsville Enterprise limited are among Edify’s hydrogen hub partners.

Funding from ARENA and the German government was awarded through the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator (HyGATE) initiative for collaborative work between Edify and Siemens Energy Global, the latter which is supplying the electrolyser to the Townsville hub.

Announcing the hub funding on Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he envisioned Townville as “a clean energy economy with jobs being created through green hydrogen and other products”.

Edify Energy chief executive John Cole said the Townsville hydrogen hub project is “a cracking project” based on “very good technology”, and that he looks forward to “actually breaking ground, getting the thing built”.

Climate Change and Energy minister Chris Bowen described renewable hydrogen as “a game changer, opening the door to green metals, green fertiliser, green power and supporting industrial decarbonisation”.

Mr Bowen later told journalists in Townsville that the Regional Hydrogen Hubs Program – Townsville Region “was a very competitive process [with] very strong bids”. Edify was chosen as the “best option for our country and best option for Townsville”, he said.

The Albanese government committed $70 million to the Regional Hydrogen Hubs Program – Townsville Region in the October 2022-23 federal Budget, delivering on an election commitment. The multi-stage round was run between March 14 and August 31, 2023.

However only $48.2 million was committed to Edify, as this was the amount the firm applied for. This leaves $21.8 million of uncommitted funding which the government has yet to announce the fate of.

The Townsville round was a late addition to the Regional Hydrogen Hubs program, a re-badged version of Morrison government’s Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs Program.

Six successful applicants announced under the former government’s program have been awarded funding. The hubs are located in Gladstone, Kwinana, Port Bonython, the Hunter Valley, Bell Bay, and the Pilbara, with the latter two confirmed earlier this month.

A seventh hydrogen hub grant was supposed to be awarded to a Port of Newcastle-Macquarie joint venture but that project did not eventuate.

Including the Townsville hub, the government has committed just under $500 million through the Regional Hydrogen Hubs Program.

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