The Port of Townsville is set to expand and develop new facilities in line with a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Origin Energy on its export-scale 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, which are currently under development, as well as 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. 

Origin General Manager Future Fuels, Felicity Underhill, said, “Townsville is 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.

“Townsville has the potential to become a leading global hub for hydrogen exports, boosting local jobs, as well as supporting local industry and transport to decarbonise.

“There will be significant export demand for green hydrogen coming from Asia in the 2030s and even sooner from Japan in the mid-2020s, and our proximity to these markets and abundance of clean renewable resources puts Australia in pole position to be a global leader in hydrogen.

“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.

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

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said her 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 today 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 Member for Mundingburra, 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 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 know-how 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.”   

Assistant Minister for Hydrogen Development, Lance McCallum, said the MOU would help cement future opportunities for new, secure jobs in Queensland. 

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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