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North Queensland’s hydrogen future and the potential of thousands of regional jobs is a step closer with an agreement between Australian energy company Origin and the Port of Townsville.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her Government was continuing to deliver Queensland’s plan for economic recovery from the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Part of that plan is supporting regional economies to provide jobs growth in places like Townsville and North Queensland,” the Premier said.

“We’ve invested in a $232 million upgrade of the port channel, $40 million Berth 4 upgrade and $48 million intermodal facility to ensure the port remains a premier gateway for the north.”

Transport Minister and Acting Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mark Bailey said today’s milestone demonstrated the critical role Queensland’s publicly-owned ports are playing in the state becoming an international hub for hydrogen industry and jobs.

“We’re a leading energy exporter and the world is now looking to Queensland as a leading producer of hydrogen as the next energy source,” he said.

“These investments in the port combined with adjacent land in the State Development Area provide growth opportunities for both existing and emerging industries including hydrogen.”

Assistant Minister for Hydrogen Development and the 50% Renewable Energy Target by 2030 Lance McCallum said the MoU would help cement future opportunities for new, secure jobs in Queensland.

General Manager Future Fuels at Origin, Felicity Underhill, said Townsville was ideally placed to develop a liquid hydrogen facility due to its deep water port, industrial-zoned land, availability of skilled workers and nearby renewable energy and sustainable water resources.

“This is one of the most advanced commercial scale green liquid hydrogen projects in the world, and we and our partners are looking forward to commencing front end engineering and design (FEED) this calendar year.

“Origin’s MOU with the Port of Townsville is an important and exciting next step in the process.”

Port of Townsville Chair Renita Garard said Townsville was a world class location for renewable hydrogen production with significant export potential to close Asian markets.