December 7, 2022

Queensland council charts course from coal hub to renewables superpower – pv magazine Australia

Gladstone Regional Council has launched a 10-year economic transition roadmap outlining a plan to help the industrial hub thrive in a decarbonising world, move away from a fossil fuel-driven economy and manage impacts associated with new energy industries.

The council said the Gladstone Region’s Economic Transition Roadmap will guide it on what is needed to adapt to a rapidly changing energy sector and support a positive economic transition for its community over the course of of the next decade.

“The Gladstone region is facing major economic transformation as industries grapple with the decarbonisation of the global economy,” the report said. “The purpose of the roadmap is to inform and guide the council on what is needed to help the region adapt successfully to a changing energy sector over the next decade, alongside other levels of government and industry.”

Developed in partnership with regional economic development agency, The Next Economy, the 166-page document is the result of two years of research and extensive engagement involving 220 community, government and industry stakeholders.

Next Economy chief executive Dr Amanda Cahill said the roadmap will position the Gladstone region, which is home to alumina smelters, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal exports, and power stations powered by fossil fuels to meet a single generation. changes in the energy sector.

“This project is the first of its kind in Australia to use an inclusive and interactive planning process to engage such a diverse group of stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition,” she said. “The roadmap will enable Gladstone Regional Council to lead and work with industry, government and the community to navigate the changes on the horizon that directly impact the local economy.”

The roadmap identifies six key areas where the council could play a role, including energy security, building a viable hydrogen industry, economic diversification, workforce development, benefits for the community and the protection of the environment.

Gladstone Area Mayor Matt Burnett said most of the recommendations in the roadmap relate to the council’s advocacy role, as well as its links to industry, community and other levels of government .

Burnett said council’s decision to approve the roadmap will allow him to determine the future of the area, with council having already begun to identify how it can incorporate the recommendations into other council plans, developing the budget items and staff.

“This puts us in pole position to take advantage of the economic opportunities of new energy industries, while ensuring that our region maintains its industrial heritage and community vitality in a new economy in transition,” he said.

“The Council understands how vital it is to continue working with our communities and stakeholders to diversify the region’s economy for long-term prosperity. This roadmap helps us determine what needs to be done to achieve this vision.

The economy of the Gladstone region is closely tied to the export of fossil fuels.

Image: Gladstone Ports Corporation

While other parts of Australia are also feeling the impact of changes in the energy sector, the report suggests that the Gladstone region is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of decarbonisation.

The region is economically dependent on a range of carbon-intensive industries, including alumina and aluminum production, LNG, and is home to the NRG Gladstone and Callide B coal-fired power stations, both of which are at risk of potential closure in the next few years. 10 years. The region also derives significant revenue from the export of fossil fuels, with the port handling 25% of Australia’s LNG and 40% of its coal exports.

While the risks of a changing energy sector are significant given the region’s economic ties to carbon-intensive industries, the roadmap recognizes that it also enjoys several competitive advantages over other regions in the net zero race. An existing industrial base, strong supply chains, a skilled workforce and access to lucrative Asian markets through the port make the region attractive to a range of new investors and industries.

“Gladstone’s existing industrial base and growing availability of low-cost renewable energy means the region is also well placed to benefit from the energy transition,” the report said. “There are opportunities to expand and diversify the region’s economic base and take advantage of opportunities such as green manufacturing and hydrogen production.

The region is already attracting significant investment in renewable energy generation, green hydrogen and renewable energy equipment manufacturing. Fortescue Future Industries, a subsidiary of mining group Fortescue Metals, has already obtained planning approval to establish a 2 GW renewable energy infrastructure manufacturing facility in Aldoga,

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with FFI Chairman Andrew Forrest, who plans to build the world’s largest electrolyser, renewable industries and equipment plant in Gladstone.

Image: FFI

Mining giant Rio Tinto has received bids to build more than 4GW of solar and wind capacity in response to a formal market request for proposals as part of its plan to transition the energy needs of its three generating assets in the region from Gladstone – the Boyne Smelter, Yarwun Alumina Refinery and Queensland Alumina Refinery – to renewable energy by 2030.

The region is also set to become a mecca for green hydrogen with several ambitious projects already underway, including Hydrogen Utility’s proposal to establish up to 3 GW in a smelter plant and up to 5,000 tonnes per day of ammonia production capacity.

London-based Eco Energy World plans a $500m project combining a 300MW solar power plant with a 200MW hydrogen power plant and 100MW of battery energy storage, while Japanese trading giant Sumitomo Corporation has signed a signed contract with an EPC for a solar-powered green hydrogen production plant in the regional center.

Cahill said the roadmap will allow the council to navigate the transition and maximize the benefits for the wider community.

“The Gladstone region is uniquely positioned to take advantage of new economic opportunities as we transition to new energy solutions, but we also need to plan ahead to manage potential impacts on the regional economy, community and community. environment,” she said. “We can shape them in a way that benefits all three.”

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