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Origin may develop major hydrogen plant in Townsville


Origin Energy will start early engineering studies next year for a major green hydrogen export plant in Townsville that would produce a carbon-free, sustainable form of energy.

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The project has been through feasibility studies but has not yet come up with a capital cost or job numbers but Origin has said it would use its portfolio of renewable energy projects as the electricity feed for a 300 megawatt electrolyser that would produce 36 kilotonnes of hydrogen a year.

Just 1 kg of hydrogen is enough to travel up to 100km in a hydrogen fuel cell EV, so 36ktpa would be enough to power a car for  3.6 billion km a year. This would save 0.2kg of CO2e/km compared to a diesel engine car, so 36ktpa would save 720ktpa CO2e.

The project would need a significant plant in Townsville to deliver that level of production.

Origin already has a customer in Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The Japanese conglomerate is heavily involved in hydrogen as an energy fuel.

It’s also possible the project would use coal seam gas water as its feedstock.

Hydrogen has been estimated to have a potential market of $1.7 billion and 2000 jobs for Australia by 2030 and the science behind it is well known. The big drawbacks have been its cost of production, storage and transport.

Costs have fallen in recent years and Kawasaki is leader in transport and storage of hydrogen because it is highly volatile.

The Queensland Government has backed hydrogen development and has committed $750,000 for a feasibility study into producing hydrogen using solar energy from central Queensland and exporting it to Japan via Gladstone.

Origin also announced an upgraded production forecast for its APLNG project, based on Curtis Island, Gladstone.

At an investor day presentation, Origin said stronger than expected demand had pushed its LNG production forecast to between 675 and 705 petajoules in 2021. Its previous guidance was 650 to 680 petajoules.





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