Water to drive multi-billion dollar exports of fuel

WASTEWATER from our sewerage treatment plants could soon be providing the feedstock for a multi-billion dollar hydrogen fuel export industry at Townsville.

Energy giant Origin Energy revealed its preference to use recycled wastewater when presenting on its liquid hydrogen project at a Townsville industry breakfast on Tuesday.

Liquid hydrogen could be exported from Townsville by ship.
Liquid hydrogen could be exported from Townsville by ship.

Origin is planning what would be one of Australia's largest hydrogen plants, producing 36,000 tonnes a year for export and domestic supply by using low cost renewable energy to split hydrogen and oxygen in water.

Origin Energy general manager Future Fuels Felicity Underhill told the event one of the reasons Townsville was "perfectly suited" for hydrogen processing was not only its deep water port and skilled workforce but its huge potential for renewable energy and the supply of water.

She said there was more than enough spare allocation from sewerage treatment plants to meet their initial requirement of about three megalitres of water a day.

"It's incredibly important to us when we talk about green renewable hydrogen that we are not just talking about the energy input but we are talking about the water as well," Ms Underhill said.

"We are not talking about using groundwater or freshwater. We are looking at water that's come out of sewerage treatment plants, water treatment facilities or, if required, desalination water."

Liquid hydrogen could be exported from Townsville by ship.
Liquid hydrogen could be exported from Townsville by ship.

Mayor Jenny Hill said the council was already working to develop a recycled water re-use scheme as part of a water security plan.

"We are continuing to work with Origin to explore the use of recycled water in its Townsville hydrogen project," she said.

Ms Underhill said the lower cost of solar and wind energy meant hydrogen from water was now a real proposition.

There was a huge amount of renewable energy potential in North Queensland.

Its proposed 300MW electrolyser would require about the same load as the city of Townsville.

"You can imagine how that's going to enable additional renewable energy," Ms Underhill said.

"We see demand exists from international countries who are looking to decarbonise but are not blessed with the same renewable energy capacity we have in Australia.

"Hydrogen is a great way of catching our renewable energy and sending it overseas."

Ms Underhill said they would know more about the size of the potential investment as they moved into front end engineering and design but that it could be a multi-billion dollar venture.

Originally published as Water to drive multi-billion dollar exports of fuel


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