Qld govt tips $2.7m into company’s hydrogen bus fleet upgrade


Brandon How
Reporter

The Queensland government has made a $2.7 million grant to support a local coach company replacing its diesel fleet with hydrogen powered alternatives.

Emerald Coaches will be able to add two hydrogen fuel cell electric buses by mid-2023 with the government support. The hydrogen buses have a range of about 240 kilometres from a single tank. This backs the company’s mission to ditch its 120 diesel buses in favour of reaching zero-emissions by 2040. Overall, the transition is expected to cost the Emerald Coaches about $100 million.

(L-R) Emerald Coaches director Michael Baulch and Acting Premier Steven Mile

The buses will service mine workers and students in the Bowen Basin, a major coal producer in Central Queensland. Refuelling of the buses will take place at the company’s existing bus depot and is expected to be refuelled at the same rate as its current diesel buses.

Support from the state government will come though the second round of the $35 million Hydrogen Industry Development Fund (HIDF). The second round will allocate $20 million to renewable hydrogen projects as further support for the Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy 2019-24.

Acting Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Mile said that the funding was the beginning of support for hydrogen investments in Central Queensland.

“The Palaszczuk Government is supporting the use of renewable energy for public transport across the state, including for longer-distance travel. This project will demonstrate the commercial viability of transitioning a regional bus fleet to new technology renewable hydrogen,” Minister Miles said.

“We’re positioning the Central Queensland region to protect the jobs that we have here now and traditional industries, and make sure that we attract and create the jobs of the future. We’ve been talking a lot about renewables and how we’re going to use our renewables to produce hydrogen.

“The vision is to eventually be producing green hydrogen here from local renewable energy. A lot of the work in Gladstone and the wider Central Queensland region is shoring up as a global superpower in the industries of the future.”

Emerald Coaches director Michael Baulch, who is also director of hydrogen refuelling company H2 Energy, welcomed the funding and said that Emerald Coaches zero-emissions commitment would benefit the wider community.

“Emerald Coaches is the first private bus operator in Australia to commit to zero carbon emissions by 2040. This HIDF grant means we’re now on the way to establishing a hydrogen bus fleet that can operate throughout the Central Highlands and Mackay regions, fuelled by hydrogen produced from local sunshine and water,” Mr Baulch said.

“This project has been five or six years in the making and thanks to the Palaszczuk government, the hydrogen industry development fund committing funds to the significant projects for Central Queensland.”

This builds on the wider commitment that every new bus in South East Queensland is to be zero emissions from 2025, a commitment which will be expanded to regional areas before 2030.

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said this investment will add to the Queensland section of the national Hydrogen Superhighway. A memorandum of understanding for this project was signed with New South Wales and Victoria at the end of March.

A $4.7 billion green hydrogen and ammonia facility in Gladstone, Central Queensland was recently awarded Coordinated Project status. Also being built in Gladstone is the world’s largest electrolyser manufacturing facility, which is due to begin production in 2023.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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