9 April 2024

Nation's first commercial-scale hydrogen electrolyser facility opens in Queensland

| James Day
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hydrogen electrolyser facility

Collectively, the two green-hydrogen projects will generate 240 jobs during construction and 93 as part of the ongoing operation. Photo: Queensland Government.

The nation’s largest hydrogen electrolyser manufacturing facility has opened in the Queensland city of Gladstone and is set to hugely increase the current global production of green hydrogen.

Electrolysers are devices that produce hydrogen by using electricity to split water into its component parts. Green hydrogen can be used for transport fuel, industrial heating, and as feedstock for other chemicals such as methanol.

It is the first manufacturing facility in Australia to build electrolysers on a commercial scale and one of the largest in the world. Initially, it will be able to produce more than two gigawatts of energy a year, but at full capacity is expected to make in excess of 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually.

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Energy company Fortescue built the facility with State Government support as the first stage of its Green Energy Manufacturing Centre.

On a 100-hectare site in the Aldoga Industrial Estate, it is part of the government’s plan to transform the industrial city of Gladstone into a renewable-energy hub. The state provided a range of support for the project, including allocation of the land, an electrical substation, a road network, communications, and local scheme water connection.

Premier Steven Miles announced the facility’s opening at a cabinet meeting, saying it would deliver new clean economy manufacturing jobs and support the government’s commitment to reduce 75 per cent of Queensland’s emissions by 2035.

Fortescue Energy CEO Mark Hutchinson said the facility would position Gladstone as a leading Australian manufacturer of green-energy technology.

“The world is looking for solutions to decarbonise, and green hydrogen has a major role to play in this,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“As the demand for green hydrogen grows, so too will the demand for the electrolysers needed to produce it.

“This facility, delivered and commissioned in less than two years and with one of the only automated production lines of its kind, is a demonstration of what is possible when governments and business work together in the interests of our economy and our environment.”

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Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing Glenn Butcher also announced at the cabinet meeting they had concluded negotiations with Fortescue for their long-term Water Supply Contract. This contract will support the green-electrolyser facility and the future hydrogen pilot plant, which just received development approval from the state’s Coordinator-General.

This next phase of Fortescue’s precinct is a 50MW green-hydrogen production facility named PEM50, which will be the company’s first commercial-scale plant of its kind. It will use the locally made Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysers to produce green hydrogen for domestic and foreign markets.

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