North-West Queensland is set to become home to one of the State’s largest ever renewable energy projects, with Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) and Windlab to partner on a Super Hub which could generate more than 10GW of wind and solar power and underpin the industrial-scale production of green hydrogen from purpose-built facilities within Queensland.
Green hydrogen has been highlighted as a solution for decarbonisation across a range of sectors, including transport, industrial and energy storage. According to research conducted for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, demand for hydrogen exported from Australia could be over three million tonnes per year by 2040, injecting up to $10 billion into the economy annually.
However, industrial-scale green hydrogen – hydrogen produced from renewable energy – has been constrained by the lack of renewable supply to power the process of extracting hydrogen from water through electrification.
FFI CEO Mark Hutchinson said the opportunity was a game-changer for Queensland that will accelerate decarbonisation of the grid and help make green hydrogen a reality at an industrial scale.
“Australia’s natural resources, including its wind, sun and landmass, are unrivalled in terms of their potential for the production of green energy – green hydrogen in particular – and that is no truer than in the sunshine state,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“This is about ensuring Queensland and Australia are in the best possible position to play a leading role in the production and supply of green hydrogen globally.
“For the first time, the North Queensland Super Hub will provide the quantity of renewable energy we need to support large-scale green hydrogen production right here in Queensland. The environmental and economic opportunities that can stem from this are significant, both in terms of lowering emissions and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and in terms of local job creation.”
FFI will partner with leading renewables developer Windlab on the North Queensland Super Hub, leveraging Windlab’s decade-long presence in the region including developing and operating Kennedy Energy Park, a world-first hybrid wind, solar and battery storage facility near Hughenden.
The first stage of the proposed project includes the 800MW Prairie Wind Farm and the 1000MW Wongalee project and is currently in detailed planning, with land agreements in place and the application for development approval for Prairie Wind Farm planned for submission in the coming months.
Subject to approvals, construction on the first stage is expected to commence in 2025 with the projects anticipated to begin to produce power by 2027. Energy generated from the project stands to produce green hydrogen as well as feed renewable power to the grid.
The announcement comes on the back of FFI’s investment in establishing the world’s largest electrolyser manufacturing facility in Gladstone.
Windlab CEO John Martin said Windlab had spent ten years building a deep understanding of the region’s renewable energy resources, as well as building relationships with local stakeholders and community.
“Windlab’s experience and track record on the ground demonstrates our commitment to meaningful partnerships with local landowners and communities, and a clear focus on delivering the best performing assets while managing any potential impacts in a way that meets stakeholder expectations,” Mr Martin said.
“The North Queensland Super Hub presents a high-yield, complementary wind and solar resource in a region ideally suited for multiple offtake opportunities, while being compatible with the existing land use.
“This facility marks a big step towards realising our strategic, scalable development plan that leverages the region’s untapped renewable energy base to transform Australia’s electricity market and drive the nation’s clean energy transition.”