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The plans for the Stanwell Clean Energy Hub have been revealed, with a number of initiatives lined up to train and prepare the workforce for future projects and to test innovative new energy technologies.

To begin the transformation of the Stanwell Clean Energy Hub, publicly owned energy company Stanwell Corporation will build the Future Energy and Innovation Training Hub (FEITH) valued at up to $100 million.

The size of a shopping centre, the hub will provide the sandbox to test out innovative new energy technology including wind, solar, hydrogen and battery storage.

It will also provide a real-life, hands-on training environment for Queensland energy employees to develop the skills needed to work on renewable energy technologies.

The project is proposed to be delivered in phases, starting with the establishment of common infrastructure and civil works in late 2023.

Future phases include a skills academy and demonstration centre where the community can come to learn about new energy technologies. In its entirety, the project will cost more than $100 million and be deployed over five years.

The Stanwell Power Station, with a capacity of 1,460MW is located between the potential future Capricorn and Calliope Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) as outlined in Queensland’s Draft REZ Roadmap.

Those two zones alone are expected to connect between 1,900MW and 3,800MW of installed generation, creating up to 650 construction jobs, supported by the Jobs Security Guarantee for the existing workforce.

Central Queensland’s REZ covers ten local government areas and supports the region’s key industries of agriculture, construction, minerals processing, and manufacturing to meet their clean energy goals and demand from international markets.

Member for Keppel and Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure, Brittany Lauga, said that the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan is driving investment and new opportunities in the region, supporting workers to be partners in the energy transformation, and capturing new opportunities to create secure, ongoing, good jobs.

“Last year the Premier and I committed to not shut the gate on this power station and to give it a new life, with more workers, playing a leading role in the energy transformation – today, we deliver on that commitment.” 

Member for Rockhampton and Queensland Hydrogen Champion, Barry O’Rourke, the State Government is reinvesting in this power station with new renewable energy, renewable hydrogen, storage, and system strength infrastructure, leveraging the strategic advantages of the site.

“This investment locks in the opportunity for Central Queensland workers to lead a green hydrogen industry with the potential to grow demand for renewable energy, assist in domestic supply for decarbonisation, and create the opportunity to export our Central Queensland renewable resources to the world.”

Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni said that the nation cannot meet its legislated emissions reduction targets without serious action in Queensland, so the State Government is delivering the energy transition that Queenslanders and Australians voted for.

“The first place the Premier and I went following the release of our plan was the Stanwell Power Station to give the workforce the Government’s commitment to their job security and outline our blueprint to convert it into a Clean Energy Hub,” Mr de Brenni said. 

“We’re so serious about our plan that we’re legislating our renewable energy targets – 70 per cent by 2032 and 80 per cent by 2035 – and putting our Jobs Security Guarantee into law. 

“Because Queenslanders kept their energy network in public hands, they have unprecedented control over the destiny of their energy system in its transition to 70 per cent renewable energy by 2032.

“While other states are scrambling to get out of coal-fired power, or even prop it up for longer, it’s Queensland who is now leading the nation’s orderly climate and energy transition.

Mr de Brenni said that the Queensland Draft Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap demonstrates the state’s unique ability to deliver benefits for local communities through infrastructure, transport, housing and accommodation, workforce, supply chains, waste management, biodiversity protection, other land uses, and social infrastructure, as well as local industry and First Nations considerations.

“We need to set the standard because public ownership gives us an extra layer of accountability to our workers, communities, and the environment, as well as to energy security and affordability for households and businesses. 

“We’ve always said that Queensland’s publicly owned power stations will continue to play an important role in our future energy system as clean energy hubs because they are located in strong parts of the network with strategic advantages like grid connection, a highly skilled workforce, established community relationships, and land.”

Chair of the Net Zero Economy Agency, Greg Combet, said that the Stanwell Clean Energy Hub will play an important role in unlocking investment in net zero economic transformation to support Queensland’s energy transition.

“During my recent travel to Queensland I was impressed by the commitment of the Queensland Government, local governments, industry, and communities to work together towards an orderly transition that capitalises on emerging energy technology opportunities,” Mr Combet said. 

“The Net Zero Economy Agency has been established to ensure that the workers, industries, and communities that have powered Australia for generations can seize the opportunities of Australia’s transition to a net zero economy. This project is a great example of a regional community in Queensland working together for a better future.”

Stanwell CEO, Michael O’Rourke, said that the FEITH project will be the visible bright spark of Stanwell’s transformation to clean energy and Stanwell’s vision is for FEITH to be a catalyst for advancing the energy transformation, not just at Stanwell, but for the entire state.

“It will increase our understanding of new energy technologies and their application in building Stanwell’s renewable energy portfolio and driving the development of the Queensland hydrogen industry,” Mr O’Rourke said. 

“And just as importantly, it will help us create the energy workforce Queensland needs for the future through hands-on skills development and training.”

The three purposes of the FEITH project are:

Commercialisation testing

  • Incubation and acceleration space for pilot energy projects
  • Testing of new technology and developing and driving it to a commercialisation stage

Research and Development

  • A trial site for experimentation, development and testing
  • A space to explore technologies targeted for specific energy solutions for specific purposes
  • A feeder for technologies to be integrated into clean energy hubs

Training and education

  • Training, upskilling and micro-credentials for Stanwell staff and other industry workers
  • Enhancing apprenticeship learning opportunities
  • A demonstration centre where community members, education providers and schools can learn about emerging energy technologies

Iron flow battery

Stanwell has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Energy Storage Industries – Asia Pacific (ESI) to establish an iron flow battery pilot project on site adjacent to Stanwell Power Station.

A total of 20 twelve-metre-long  batteries have been delivered to the power station to form 1MW/10MWh of energy storage – the first iron flow battery in Australia and the largest in the world. ESI owns the Asia-Pacific licence for the technology created by US-based, Energy Storage Solutions Inc (ESS).

The iron flow battery pilot at SPS will test the viability of iron flow batteries for medium duration energy storage (eight to 12 hours) and confirm the viability of deploying the technology at scale. 

The duration makes the batteries ideal for supporting and firming the electricity network during periods of high demand and low renewable energy generation. Iron flow batteries use an environmentally friendly electrolyte solution to store and discharge electrical energy.

Stanwell will acquire the battery once it has been successfully commissioned and is aiming to deliver service and maintenance on the pilot.

Hydrogen electrolyser pilot

Stanwell will partner with Hysata to host a 5MW pilot project to validate the commercialisation potential and technical performance of Hysata’s electrolyser technology.

Hysata is an Australian electrolyser company which is developing a completely new type of electrolyser, featuring the world’s most efficient electrolysis cell coupled with a simplified balance of plant. 

Electricity makes up most of the cost of green hydrogen and therefore, the most efficient electrolyser will deliver the lowest cost hydrogen.

Stanwell will provide $3 million and supply the site and facilities for the field deployment of the electrolyser at FEITH.

Skills and training partnership

Stanwell and CQUniversity (CQU) have signed an MoU and will partner to develop a skills and training program for: 

  • Existing trades, technical and engineering roles within the energy industry to further build and transfer their current skills to renewable energy technologies for the future
  • Expand current opportunities for apprentices, trainees and graduates in hydrogen technologies and battery storage

Stanwell will complement CQU’s research facilities with access to FEITH, enhancing the real-world applications of the research by enabling hands-on training and technology development at a commercial demonstration scale.

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