Scenic Rim tourism operator gets govt funding for hydrogen power project

GREEN ENERGY: Spicers Retreats Scenic Rim Trails will move to renewable hydrogen power at camp sites. Photo: Supplied
GREEN ENERGY: Spicers Retreats Scenic Rim Trails will move to renewable hydrogen power at camp sites. Photo: Supplied

THE State government has earmarked $10 million over the next four years to develop the renewable hydrogen industry in Queensland, with Scenic Rim tourism operator Spicers Retreat set to benefit.

Hydrogen produces water vapour and heat when burned, and is close to a zero-emissions fuel when produced from water using renewable electricity, or from coal or methane combined with carbon capture and storage.

Spicers group sustainability manager Claire Baguley said the government funds would help create an improved renewable power system for eco camp sites along the Scenic Rim Trail, which offers two and five day hikes within the region.

She said the project, in collaboration with green energy company LAVO would replace the use of solar batteries and diesel generators at the sites with an all-in-one renewable hydrogen battery unit.

"Spicers is very excited about implementing this project, which will demonstrate the use of hydrogen energy instead of diesel," she said.

"The project will cost $2 million and the goverment is providing $942,000."

State Development Minister Steven Miles said the $10 million injection increased the government's industry development funding commitment to the hydrogen industry to $25 million.

Mr Miles said the commitment strongly aligned with Queensland's Recovery Plan to rebuild the state economy after the effects of Covid-19.

"Renewable hydrogen offers the opportunity to create a new high-tech industry delivering enhanced environmental outcomes and highly skilled jobs," he said.

Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Minister Mick de Brenni said the $10 million dollar commitment was expected to lead to both construction and highly skilled operational jobs with the majority of investment interest in regional Queensland.

"The next round of Queensland's Hydrogen Industry Development Fund will open following consultation with industry set down for January 2021," he said.

Mr de Brenni said there were four successful recipients under the first round of the Hydrogen Industry Development Fund including projects in Townsville, Brisbane and, Gladstone, and the Scenic Rim.

"Australian Gas Networks will build a facility in Gladstone to deliver renewable hydrogen into the city's gas network and I'm pleased to announce Spicers Retreat in the Scenic Rim will also build a renewable hydrogen plant, storage system and fuel cells at their eco camps."

On November 27 the government announced that a partnership between Stanwell and Japanese industrial gases company Iwatani Corporation would progress planning on a renewable hydrogen export facility in Gladstone. They said more than 18 months of planning had been undertaken to confirm the opportunity for hydrogen to provide a versatile energy carrier that could export renewable energy from Queensland to Japan.

This announcement followed Origin Energy's announcement on November 26 that they had a 2021 target for starting early engineering on a hydrogen project in Townsville.

The Townsville hydrogen project, which the government has been working with Origin to progress for more than a year, involves a venture with Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan, involving a 300 megawatt electrolyser that is capable of producing 36,000 tonnes a year of green hydrogen for export and domestic supply.

Redlands MP and government hydrogen champion Kim Richards said supporting private sector investment was a focus area of the Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy 2019-2024, released last year.

"As part of the broader commitment by the government to industry training and skills, in relation to the hydrogen industry the Palaszczuk Government has committed:

  • $20 million towards a Queensland Apprenticeships Centre in renewable hydrogen at Beenleigh
  • $10.6 million towards a Hydrogen and Renewable Energy training facility at Bohle TAFE in Townsville (Department of Employment Small Business and Training)
  • $2 million has been committed to upgrade training facilities at Gladstone State High School to prepare students for jobs in the Hydrogen industry

"We have always recognised training as a pathway for many Queenslanders to get into a rewarding job. With COVID-19, training has become even more critical in ensuring Queensland workers can keep working or access emerging job opportunities," she said.

"The hydrogen industry has the potential to be a multi-billion dollar industry and the investment in training is to ensure we have people with the skills and training ready to meet the demand as it grows and ensure the safe and sustainable development of the hydrogen industry."