Gladstone needs more new energy to power Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct

Gladstone could become a major green hydrogen hub, but it will need much more renewable energy to power existing and new industries

08 April 2022

  • Gladstone has opportunity to become a major green hydrogen hub
  • $6b federal government funding for REIPs can attract $38b private investment
  • Gladstone REIP could attract $8b in investment, support 11,000 new jobs and earn $2b annually by 2032

Gladstone could become a major green hydrogen hub with many proposed hydrogen projects, but it will need much more renewable energy to power existing industry giants committed to decarbonisation as well as develop new green industries, according to a new briefing paper by green energy think tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

A Gladstone Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct (REIP) could attract $8 billion in investment, support 11,000 new jobs and earn $2 billion annually by 2032, according to ACIL-Allen modelling commissioned by BZE and WWF-Australia last year. These figures are likely to be even higher given recent announcements of new developments.

Gladstone needs much more renewable energy to diversify its energy supply and power a REIP, needing 34 GW of renewable energy to fully decarbonise existing industries and power new industries. Gladstone could draw on a potential 47 GW of renewable energy from surrounding Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), yet only 2.9 GW of renewable energy projects have been announced. The transmission and storage investment required for a full-scale Gladstone REIP is expected to be about $30 billion.

Japanese companies are teaming up with locals looking at developing green hydrogen production in Gladstone, including Japan’s largest domestic hydrogen supplier, Iwatani Corporation, with Queensland state-owned generator Stanwell; and Sumitomo with Rio Tinto. Additionally, H2U’s proposed H2-Hub Gladstone will include an export-oriented green hydrogen and ammonia manufacturing facility. All these green hydrogen projects will need approximately 20 GW of renewable energy. Business is demanding renewable energy to decarbonise existing industries and power new industries, and government needs to deliver.

BZE’s Export Powerhouse report last year showed that Australia could grow a new green export market worth $333 billion a year by 2050 – almost triple the value of our current fossil fuel exports – with the right government support.

Federal government investment now will create certainty for investors, unlock private sector investment, boost innovation and create new jobs. To kickstart seven REIPs across the country including Gladstone, the federal government needs to fund $6.3 billion in projects over the next 10 years, which would attract $37.8 billion in private investment with the additional support of state governments and public sector financing from institutions such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, according to analysis by BZE and WWF-Australia.

“Australian manufacturing is being revitalised thanks to renewable energy, attracting new investment, protecting jobs now, and creating thousands of new jobs for the future,” said BZE’s Queensland Projects Manager Dr Heidi Edmonds. “Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts are the smart way to take advantage of this boom, revitalising our industrial heartlands with low-cost renewable energy to make the goods the new economy demands and protecting our industrial heritage.

“Gladstone has long been an energy and export powerhouse, and a Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct will continue that proud tradition long into the future, producing green aluminium and alumina, green hydrogen, ammonia and chemicals, and wind turbines and electrolysers.

“Business cannot be expected to build and coordinate the infrastructure needed for a REIP alone, especially with so many businesses entering the green export industry. Governments helped build our rail, road, energy and telecommunications infrastructure and now we need to ramp up our renewable energy capacity, diversify our energy sources, and develop REIPs.

“Building REIPs will be a big nation building project, larger than the Snowy Mountains scheme but with much greater returns. It is building the energy infrastructure that will power our industries into the future, and future-proof manufacturing. Never has the role of government been so critical. A REIP needs funding and planning and collaboration between industry and government.

“There are trillions of investment dollars leaving the fossil fuel industry and looking for a new home in renewables and they want the highest return on investment. Investors will go to the countries that build the infrastructure that maximises economies of scale, efficiencies and synergies and coordination to maximise revenue.”

The Gladstone REIP briefing paper can be downloaded from
https://bze.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Gladstone-REIP-Briefing-Paper-April-2022.pdf

Gladstone green industry developments

Gladstone could become a major green hydrogen hub with many proposed hydrogen projects, but it will need much more renewable energy to power existing industry giants committed to decarbonisation as well as the new green industries.

  • Rio Tinto plans to halve its global emissions by 2030 and to power Gladstone’s Boyne Smelter with renewable energy, while chemical giant Orica, which operates the Yarwun facility, has announced a 40% cut to emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.
  • High-purity alumina manufacturer Alpha HPA has signed an agreement with state-owned renewables company CleanCo Queensland for the use of 100% renewable electricity for the electrified part of its operations.
  • Fortescue Future Industries has announced plans to build a Global Green Energy Manufacturing Centre to manufacture electrolysers, used to make green hydrogen, and then branch out into wind turbines, long-range electric cabling, and solar photovoltaic cells.
  • Japanese companies are teaming up with locals looking at developing green hydrogen production, including Japan’s largest domestic hydrogen supplier, Iwatani Corporation, with Queensland state-owned generator Stanwell; and Sumitomo with Rio Tinto. H2U’s proposed H2-Hub Gladstone will include an export-oriented green hydrogen and ammonia manufacturing facility.

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