The Victorian and New South Wales Governments have announced plans to co-deliver Australia’s first renewable hydrogen refuelling network, aiming to reduce the transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions which account for a quarter of Victoria’s total carbon emissions.
Both governments will invest $10 million to build at least four renewable hydrogen refuelling stations between Sydney and Melbourne, promising to kickstart the high-potential hydrogen-for-transport sector.
The project, which will be built along the nation’s busiest freight route, is a significant step towards decarbonising the trucking industry and helping achieve both states’ 2030 emission reduction targets.
The Queensland Government has signed a separate memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Victoria and NSW to collaborate and share knowledge on the Hume Hydrogen Highway (HHH) learnings.
“The renewable hydrogen highway will create new jobs, drive investment across the east coast and is a landmark step towards meeting Victoria’s target to reach net-zero by 2050,” Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said.
“While the Commonwealth Government is failing to address climate change, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are building pathways to a zero-emissions transport sector.”
D’Ambrosio believes the HHH will have a transformative effect on Victoria’s broader hydrogen-for-transport sector, positioning Victoria as a destination of choice for renewable hydrogen projects.
The goal of the HHH project, which will link the Hume Highway, the Pacific Highway and the Newell Highway by 2026, is to take advantage of the greater efficiency for freight through fast refuelling, increased load capacity and range. It will also help support approximately 25 hydrogen-powered long-haul heavy freight vehicles to adopt zero-emission technology.
Fuel cell electric vehicles hold potential advantages for the freight sector over existing zero-emission alternatives, including shorter refuelling times, increased payload, and greater range.
Renewable hydrogen is a cost-competitive alternative to diesel, which currently powers most of Australia’s freight industry. Longer-term, it could lead to cheaper fuel prices and fewer price shocks for the sector.
“Renewable hydrogen will increasingly become a competitive zero-emissions fuel option for our heavy transport sector, giving our trucking industry the opportunity to decarbonise their fleets,” NSW Treasurer and Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean said.
The highway program is expected to unlock new markets and create new jobs, driving investment through regional and metropolitan areas along Australia’s eastern seaboard.
Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said hydrogen presents an enormous opportunity for the state, including emissions reduction opportunities and fuel security benefits.
“When you consider the impacts of the COVID pandemic and international conflicts, it’s clear Australia must achieve energy independence to shield our nation from foreign companies and foreign powers,” de Brenni said.
“Low emissions electricity and hydrogen-fuelled heavy transport will sit at the heart of the renewable energy eco-system. Transport is the fastest-growing sector for emissions, and ironically, it could also be the key to reducing them.
“Transport applications are one of the most economic uses of hydrogen, where it is already competitive with diesel on a cost-of-fuel basis.”
The Queensland government approved a regional hydrogen refuelling project this week through publicly-owned CS Energy and Japanese firm IHI. The refuelling project in Chinchilla, west of Brisbane, is the fifth Queensland-based hydrogen-related project in delivery or development.
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