The Australian government is providing funding for a feasibility study for a proposed Japanese-backed hydrogen export facility near the liquefied natural gas hub of Gladstone, Queensland.

The Australian Renewables Energy Agency (Arena) confirmed Wednesday it was providing up to A$2.17 million (US$1.59 million) in funding to Queensland government-owned Stanwell Corporation to carry out the estimated A$10.4 million study.

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The study is also being delivered in partnership with Japan’s largest hydrogen supplier Iwatani, with additional support from Japanese players Kansai Electric Power Corporation, Marubeni Corporation and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, as well as Australia’s APA Group. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will also provide funding support for the study.

Green vs Blue

Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas feedstocks, with the carbon dioxide by-product from hydrogen production captured and stored. However, the process is not emissions free.

Green hydrogen is made using electrolysis powered by renewable energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, creating an emissions free fuel.

The study will investigate the development of a hydrogen production facility capable of producing up to 36,500 tonnes per annum of green hydrogen, with exports to Japan anticipated in 2026, with Stanwell proposing to ship the hydrogen in liquid form utilising liquid hydrogen shipping vessels.

Stanwell and Iwatani also have a long-term goal to to scale up the facility to 328,500 tpa in 2031 to meet anticipated increased demand for clean hydrogen from Japan.

“Stanwell’s study presents a significant opportunity to accelerate the development of export opportunities for renewable hydrogen in Australia and to work with a highly credible consortium from Japan that has the potential to deliver a large scale export project,” Arena chief executive Darren Miller said.

“Australia’s vast solar and wind resources and our proven ability to export energy products mean we are well placed to build a large-scale competitive hydrogen export industry in the future. Feasibility studies like this are a necessary and crucial step to build the case to attract the finance required for large impactful projects.”

Earlier this year, Stanwell secured land for its proposed 3 gigawatt green hydrogen electrolysis facility at Aldoga, 20 kilometres west of Gladstone.

In addition to supplying hydrogen to Japan, Stanwell also intends to supply production from the proposed facility to local Gladstone industries.