Supporting hydrogen in North Queensland heavy transport

Joint media release with Assistant Minister the Hon Tim Wilson MP, and Member for Herbert Phil Thompson

The Morrison Government is supporting the development of the first clean hydrogen-powered trucking solution in Australia through new hydrogen infrastructure investment in North Queensland.

This infrastructure will be used to support the deployment of the largest hydrogen fuel-cell heavy haul trucks in the world.

The significant joint project is being undertaken with Ark Energy H2 Pty Ltd, Sun Metals Corporation and the Queensland Government, and seeks to reduce emissions in the trucking sector and grow the hydrogen industry in Townsville.

The Government is supporting this project in Townsville through a $15.5 million commitment through both the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The $12.5 million investment from the CEFC will support the construction of a 1MW electrolyser to produce hydrogen and refuelling infrastructure. This financing will also facilitate the purchase of five 140 tonne heavy haul hydrogen trucks to support Sun Metals Corporation’s zinc mining operations near Townsville.

The $3.02 million investment through ARENA will be paid upon the commissioning of the refuelling facility and delivery of the five trucks, which are expected to arrive in December 2022.

Ark Energy’s SunHQ hydrogen hub is expected to produce up to 158 tonnes of hydrogen a year, produced with renewable energy from the Sun Metals solar farm at the zinc refinery. 

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the investment is another step forward in the rapid development of Australia’s hydrogen future.

“This world leading hydrogen trucking project is the first by the CEFC through our $300 million Advancing Hydrogen Fund. This shows that Australian hydrogen projects are advancing from early-stage R&D to commercial operations – a key step in advancing our clean hydrogen industry," Minister Taylor said.

“This Government investment will not only help to reduce emissions in the heavy haulage and mining sectors, but also produce jobs and investment opportunities in the North Queensland community.

“We have backed our clean hydrogen sector to the tune of more than $1 billion. Our ongoing investments and technology-focused approach will lower hydrogen production costs to provide sustainable, low-cost energy for customers in Australia and overseas."

Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Tim Wilson said the project is the first hydrogen project to be jointly supported by both the CEFC and ARENA, highlighting the Government’s critical role in supporting the development of a competitive Australian hydrogen industry.

“This exciting new project will provide fuel for a fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell electric trucks that will transport zinc ore from Townsville Port to the Sun Metals Refinery, where the hydrogen will be produced on site," he said.

“The trucks will be able to refuel, and return zinc ingots back to the port in a 30 kilometre round trip.

”While the initial project will focus on hydrogen for domestic use, Ark Energy ultimately aims to export hydrogen to customers in Asia. This demonstrates the potential of North Queensland as an important hydrogen player.”

Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the investment was an important step in ensuring Townsville was a major producer and user of hydrogen.

“Ark Energy and Sun Metals have runs on the board when it comes to reducing their reliance on the grid, and to have an Australian-first fleet of hydrogen-powered trucks moving freight around our city is a massive vote of confidence,” Mr Thompson said. 

“This is just the start - we’re working hard in partnership with a number of other proponents who have big plans to help ensure Townsville is a major player in this industry.”

Clean hydrogen is a priority low emissions technology critical to the Government’s long-term plan to achieve net zero by 2050. Under the Technology Investment Roadmap, Australia is working to produce hydrogen for less than $2 a kilogram, or ‘H2 under 2’. This is the price where it becomes competitive with higher emission conventional alternatives.

The Australian Government released the National Hydrogen Strategy in 2019, which sets out a vision for Australia to become a major global hydrogen supplier by 2030.

The government is investing more than $1.2 billion to accelerate the development of an Australian hydrogen industry, including $464 million to develop up to seven Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs in regional Australia.

The Government’s investment in ultra-low cost solar aims to deliver low-cost electricity. This will enable the hydrogen industry to reduce input costs and build scale in hubs. Clean electricity at $15 per MWh would enable low-cost clean hydrogen production and increase our competitiveness in hydrogen export markets.

Clean hydrogen could directly support 16,000 jobs by 2050, plus an additional 13,000 jobs from the construction of related renewable energy infrastructure. Australian hydrogen production for export and domestic use could generate more than $50 billion in 2050.

Hydrogen is a flexible, safe, transportable and storable fuel that when used produces no carbon emissions.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office 02 6277 7120