Port of Townsville will play a part in shoring up North Queensland’s hydrogen future, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Origin Energy on its liquid hydrogen project.

The MoU facilitates the potential expansion of the port, as well as the development of a liquefaction facility, new berth and associated infrastructure. 

Origin is collaborating with Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) on a 300MW early export project that would produce 36,500 tonnes per annum of green liquid hydrogen using renewable energy and sustainable water.

The three parties will now focus on work required to accommodate KHI’s semi-commercial-scale liquid hydrogen carriers, currently under development, future project expansion opportunities, and potential for sharing of common infrastructure with other Port of Townsville users.

First export from the project is targeted from the mid-2020s.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the State Government was continuing to deliver Queensland’s plan for economic recovery from the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Part of that plan is supporting regional economies to provide jobs growth in places like Townsville and North Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We said we’d continue to build Queensland’s hydrogen industry and that’s exactly what we’re doing because that means jobs.

“The MoU signed highlights North Queensland’s importance as a vital link in the supply chain needed for Queensland to become a major renewable hydrogen producer and supplier.

“We’ve invested in a $232 million upgrade of the port channel, $40 million Berth 4 upgrade and $48 million intermodal facility to ensure the port remains a premier gateway for the north.”

Government Hydrogen Champion and Mundingburra, MP Les Walker, said the north was supporting Queensland’s emerging hydrogen industry.

“We have a proven track record for building infrastructure needed to support major industries like we did with LNG,” Mr Walker said.

“Part of the reason Townsville’s was established was its capacity as a major port and supplier of the services needed for the north’s agricultural and resources industries.

“Fast forward to today, and this is a region that has the local skills, construction knowhow and scientific expertise to put Queensland on the world map for hydrogen.”

Transport Minister and Acting Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mark Bailey, said the milestone demonstrated the critical role Queensland’s publicly owned ports are playing in the state becoming an international hub for the hydrogen industry and jobs.

“Our state already has a strong international reputation,” Mr Bailey said.

“We’re a leading energy exporter and the world is now looking to Queensland as a leading producer of hydrogen as the next energy source.

“The Port of Townsville is already well positioned as a major goods hub of the North and upgrades will have it ready for additional future capacity.

“These investments in the port combined with adjacent land in the State Development Area provide growth opportunities for both existing and emerging industries including hydrogen.”

General Manager Future Fuels at Origin, Felicity Underhill, said Townsville was ideally placed to develop a liquid hydrogen facility due to its deep water port, industrial-zoned land, availability of skilled workers and nearby renewable energy and sustainable water resources.

“This is one of the most advanced commercial scale green liquid hydrogen projects in the world, and we and our partners are looking forward to commencing front end engineering and design (FEED) this calendar year,” Ms Underhill said.

“Origin’s MOU with the Port of Townsville is an important and exciting next step in the process.”

Port of Townsville Chair, Renita Garard, said Townsville was a world class location for renewable hydrogen production with significant export potential to close Asian markets.

“This is an extremely exciting project to be part of as the global demand for hydrogen is gaining momentum every day,” Ms Garard said.

“Townsville enjoys more than 320 days of sunshine and the region has several established renewable energy developments with the renewable energy potential and regional partners progressing new hydrogen technology every day.”

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