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Renewable Gladstone: The industrial city with a habit of surprising us does it again


Queensland’s industrial city of Gladstone has become the first Australian city to chart towards a renewable future.

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The city’s regional council has approved a 10-year path to be a renewable energy hub while retaining its heavy industry.

Gladstone is home to not only the state’s biggest coal fired power station but a host of major industries including LNG and alumina with more planning to come.

A lot is riding on the plan, including the continued existence of those old industries that employ thousands but also new industry and a massive amount of investment from businesses in hydrogen and renewables.

Mayor Matt Burnett said he was being flooded with inquiries from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea about setting up in the city.

Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive Craig Haynes said in the past six months there had been a procession of 55 companies through his doors with capital investment plans in hydrogen, renewables and critical minerals.

He said about 1000 wind turbines are also planned for the region and a third of all of Australia’s renewable projects are in the broader region.

The report, known as the Gladstone Region Economic Transition Roadmap, developed in partnership with The Next Economy, would guide the council on what was required to adapt to a rapidly changing energy sector and support an economic transition for its community over the next 10 years.

It addresses key themes of energy, hydrogen, economic diversification, workforce development, community benefits and environmental protection.

The plan won unanimous support from the Gladstone Regional Council, although when the process started there was internal opposition.

One of its councillors, Natalia Muskat, said she had children and wanted them to live the best possible life.

“We have more chances now of not leaving people behind,” she said.

Mayor Burnett said the plan was about ensuring the city was not left behind.

“We have the opportunity to lead or be led,” he said.

The Next Economy chief executive Dr Amanda Cahill said it was a courageous decision by the council to start the process two years ago when there was little political support.

But she said the report was about protecting Gladstone’s industrial leadership.

Massive changes are now underway in Queensland and cities like Townsville are also evolving rapidly. This week, North Queensland Super Hub was born, driven by Andrew Twiggy Forrest, with plans to feed the electricity grid and produce green hydrogen at an industrial scale.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new Super Hub will also bring together wind and solar projects, estimated to generate more than 10 gigawatts of renewable energy.

The first stage to include the 800 megawatt Prairie Wind Farm and the 1000 megawatt Wongalee project.

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