TWO renewable hydrogen projects are set to bolster employment opportunities in regional Queensland, with the state government promising thousands of jobs.
The prospects of a three-gigawatt renewable hydrogen facility west of Gladstone and a new Hydroelectric Station, south of Gympie, took a step further in becoming a reality on Tuesday.
Land was secured for large-scale production in Aldoga, with publicly-owned generator Stanwell partnering with Japanese industrial heavyweight Iwatani Corporation to develop the export-scale facility, expected to create more than 5,000 jobs for regional Queenslanders.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the project could generate $4.2 billion in hydrogen exports and $10 billion for the Queensland economy.
"The Stanwell-Iwatani project will be a key driver in Central Queensland's hydrogen supply chain and the significant manufacturing and investment potential it will unlock," Mr Miles said.
"Stanwell has now signed an option agreement with Economic Development Queensland locking in land for the facility, which is an exciting step towards the proposed project becoming a reality.
"The 236-hectare site at Aldoga was identified as the preferred location due to its size and proximity to port, power and pipeline infrastructure."
Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Minister Mick de Brenni said once built, the project would be the largest hydrogen production facility in Queensland.
"The development of a large-scale, renewable hydrogen supply chain in Central Queensland will support the growth of renewables, create jobs and provide access to global export opportunities," he said.
"That's exactly what the Stanwell-Iwatani project will do, scaling up to over 3,000 megawatts of electrolysis capacity by the early 2030s, with millions of tonnes of renewable hydrogen to be exported around the world.
"Locally, it will also benefit construction, utilities, heavy manufacturing and a range of local service industries."
Acting Stanwell CEO Adam Aspinall said Stanwell had been investigating hydrogen opportunities since 2018.
"We recently completed a joint planning study for the project with Iwatani and we are now building a broader consortium of Japanese and Australian companies to progress the project to the next stage in the second half of 2021," Mr Aspinall said.
"As a business, we are progressing a range of future energy solutions to ensure we are in the best position possible to respond to changing market conditions."
New Borumba hydro to deliver 2000 jobs
The state government is promising 2000 regional construction jobs in south Queensland, after investing $22 million for detailed design and cost analysis for pumped hydro at Borumba Dam south of Gympie.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project had the potential to be the state's largest pumped hydro station, powering an estimated 1.5 million homes.
"More pumped hydro means more long-term, reliable energy and jobs for Queenslanders," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"My government has been exploring potential sites for pumped hydro since 2017.
"We're prioritising Borumba because of its existing dam infrastructure, land access and location within the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone."
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the business case would include detailed engineering and design, hydrological modelling, geological testing, an assessment of environmental impacts and community consultation.
"We're investing $22 million to potentially unlock a multi-billion-dollar construction project that would leverage billions more in clean energy investment and support thousands of jobs," Mr Dick said.
Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said at one gigawatt, Borumba would have double the generation and triple the storage of Wivenhoe.
"The benefits of having pumped hydro as part of our diversified energy mix was proven last month when Callide Power Station went offline," Mr de Brenni said.
"We were able to ramp up the Wivenhoe Hydroelectric Station to provide critical generation support and stabilise the network.
"Borumba Dam is already a hub of activity with water skiing, camping, BBQs and picnics on the lake front and this possible expansion will see that grow."
Mr de Brenni said if Borumba moves ahead, the Commonwealth should contribute to the capital cost.
Publicly-owned electricity transmission company Powerlink has been tasked with undertaking the business case, given its understanding of the electricity market and experience delivering very large infrastructure.
Powerlink will undertake initial works in the coming months by engaging with a range of stakeholders.
The business case is expected to take up to 2 years, with a submission expected to government by mid-to-end-2023.