Southern Oil Refining's Northern Oil Refinery at Yarwun in the Gladstone region.
Southern Oil Refining's Northern Oil Refinery at Yarwun in the Gladstone region.

NEW INDUSTRY: Calls for Gladstone hydrogen taskforce

GLADSTONE'S deputy mayor has called for the formation of a local government taskforce aimed at placing the region at the forefront of hydrogen development.

Chris Trevor said it was important councillors acted now to prevent repeating mistakes made during the development of the $70-billion LNG industry on Curtis Island.

Speaking at this month's general meeting, he said the council should form an in-house taskforce aimed at positioning the region at the front of discussions for a hydrogen export industry.

The Gladstone Region is already home to the Northern Oil Yarwun Advanced BioFuels Pilot Plant, where companies are testing technologies for hydrogen production.

"All the talk I'm hearing is that Gladstone is a preferred site for the future of hydrogen in Australia and that market is expected to be equal to, if not bigger, internationally than LNG," Cr Trevor said.

Cr Trevor said he did not want to make the same mistakes made during the planning and construction of the three LNG Curtis Island plants.

"What I could see as an outsider was the community leaders struggled with the sheer enormity of those projects," he said.

"At some point we need to look at forming a taskforce in-house with one or more councillors and our officers to develop a strategy for future investment in our community."

Cr Trevor's comments followed the release of councillor PJ Sobhanian's report on his attendance of the Northern Australia Economic Development Conference held at Karratha, where a key focus was the development of a hydrogen export industry.

Cr Sobhanian said elected members had a moral and ethical duty to drive the conversation around energy generation.

"We are not acting fast enough," Cr Sobhanian said.

"We need all levels of government working together."

Last month state and federal energy ministers adopted the National Hydrogen Strategy prepared by chief scientist Alan Finkel. The strategy is a vision for a multi-billion dollar "technology neutral" hydrogen export industry.

Meanwhile a report released on November 22 by the Australia Institute said hype around global demand for Australian hydrogen could be overstated.

It said support for developing a hydrogen export industry was based on "bullish" projections by consultants ACIL Allen.

These included estimates for demand from Japan that were 11 times higher than that country's official targets, the report said.

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