By HARRY CLARKE

A NEW online tool has been launched to help businesses in Queensland’s leading renewable energy region capitalise on what stakeholders expect will be a growing demand for hydrogen power in years to come.

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise’s (TSBE) so-called Hydrogen Capability Mapping portal aims to establish a database of businesses poised to support the hydrogen supply chain as production of the cutting edge resource begins in the region.

The initiative is part of a partnership between TSBE and government owned power generator CS Energy, which is about to begin building Queensland’s first green hydrogen demonstration plant at the site of its Kogan Creek Power Station near Chinchilla.

“A component of the partnership is to map and uncover the capability of local businesses to support a hydrogen construction development in design, construction or operations and maintenance,” said TSBE’s general manager for energy and infrastructure, Lance MacManus.

“It will help ensure that local companies can bring their existing expertise in the industrial sector and are able to understand the opportunities around hydrogen and develop their capability to service this growing market.”

The coal-fired Kogan Creek Power Station and mine, southeast of Chinchilla on Queensland’s Western Downs

CS Energy’s acting executive of future energy, Emma Roberts, said construction of the Kogan Creek hydrogen project was expected to begin in the second quarter of 2022 and cost $15-20 million.

The plant will be powered by a 2MW solar farm and a 2MW battery. Up to 50,000 litres of hydrogen per annum will be generated using a water electrolyser, before being stored in high pressure cylinders and tested on the domestic market.

“Our goal is to establish a closed loop circuit where we can power hydrogen trucks, delivering food from the Surat Basin into Brisbane in emissions-free trucks,” Ms Roberts (pictured) said.

“We think by stimulating demand out here in the region and also in Brisbane for hydrogen production, we’ll get a lot more economies of scale.

“We’ll be able to use business in the region that will help us do that, and then we can look to the export market and bring the region with us.

“There are so many inputs into a hydrogen project and we want to see what’s out there in the region that we can use.

“Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, so as the industry and companies start to decarbonise we’ll be moving towards emissions-free fuel.

“It’s the perfect way to transition from the current excellent work of energy projects and move forward into the hydrogen industry, so that we’re ready to pounce on it when it becomes a commercial industry.”

Heavy vehicle transport is poised to be among the first industries to adopt renewable hydrogen

Hydrogen experts believe trucking and heavy vehicles will be among the first industries to adopt the resource as a regular fuel source.

In hosting the TBSE online portal launch, IOR Petroleum’s head of strategy Nick Mackenzie said the company was “very excited” by opportunities to potentially provide hydrogen in the future at some of the companies 89 depots around Australia.

“Change is afoot for the future of fuels around Australia, particularly with long distance transport,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“We are certainly supporting our customers who typically use diesel for long distance transport and we see that happening for a long time, but we know that there’s a transition happening and we want to be at the forefront of that. 

“We’re exploring opportunities for us to provide alternative fuels at various sites across Australia, for both hydrogen and electricity refuelling at some of our sites.

“It’s obviously a long term project and there’s a lot of work to be done before it comes to fruition but it’s something that we’re very excited about.

“Meeting that demand and creating that network for customers is an important part of the transition of fuels, whilst maintaining deisel for exisiting customers to meet their demand.”

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