When the Queensland Government’s 2019-2024 Hydrogen Industry Strategy earmarked Gladstone as Queensland’s hydrogen highway, Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) knew it would be playing a significant role in driving the state’s hydrogen revolution.

It was no surprise the port city was chosen, as GPC’s location ticked all the boxes with its existing infrastructure, deep water harbour and adjoining large landholdings, including State Development Area approvals.

Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy shows three of Australia’s top four trading partners, including Japan, the Republic of Korea and China, have already made clear commitments to use clean hydrogen to decarbonize their energy systems.

According to Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, hydrogen makers globally now produce about 70 million tonnes of hydrogen per year. The International Energy Agency and International Renewable Energy Agency are among those predicting significant growth in global demand for hydrogen.

The region is already home to major industries including LNG, but hydrogen is expected to offer a unique opportunity for Gladstone to be part of a global energy transition.

In March 2021, Hydrogen in the Gladstone region became one step-closer to becoming a reality with the historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for an H2Ecosystem.

The MoU was signed by four groups including one of Japan’s leading trading and investment companies, Sumitomo Australia (Sumitomo), as well as the 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).

The signing was a breakthrough for new energy in the region, signifying the beginning of exploring opportunities to develop a hydrogen ecosystem in Gladstone.

A hydrogen ecosystem

The ecosystem will initially pursue domestic offtake and mobility solutions before moving to enable large-scale export. GPC Chief Operating Officer, 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.

Mr Walker said GPC has been working around-the-clock to facilitate new energy and new technology, and has started exploring what a hydrogen ecosystem will look like for the region. “It’s all part of our 50-year plan,” Mr Walker said. “We do expect that demand will grow rapidly beyond 2030 for Green Hydrogen.

“Trade at our port is diversifying and hydrogen will be a new speciality focus which will meet the needs of our customers who are turning to renewables. “At GPC, we are thought leaders focused on supporting the region and the state’s future.”

Developing renewable infrastructure

Within the Gladstone Port, Fisherman’s Landing has been identified as the premier precinct for renewables development. It is located directly adjacent to the 27,000 hectare Gladstone State Development Area, and the facility has capacity to expand to 11 berths.

The Gladstone Port is one of Australia’s premier-multi commodity ports, which prides itself on having a competitive advantage due to its proximity to Asia. “Gladstone has decades of experience providing energy to the markets in Japan,” Mr Walker said.

“And with the renewable revolution on the horizon, GPC is focused on the region continuing to be Japan’s port of call well into the future. “We have excellent, long-term working relationships with large multinationals with the ability to collaborate and innovate together for the future.”

It’s undeniable that as Queensland’s premier multi-commodity port and one of the largest multi-commodity ports in Australia, GPC is well positioned to be Australia’s leading hydrogen export location by 2030.

“We have an exceptional port and exceptional facilities and infrastructure and we are ready to take on new energy and new technology to export to markets all across the globe,” Mr Walker said.

As well as Sumitomo, the Gladstone Ports Corporation is also working with other exciting proponents to facilitate hydrogen in the region.

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