Hydrogen investment ignites hope for Gippsland

A $2 billion investment by the Japanese Government to commercialise a coal-to-hydrogen project in the Latrobe Valley and Hastings has been welcomed by the Gippsland Nationals.

The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot project last year achieved a world-first after hydrogen produced from Latrobe Valley coal was shipped to Japan via the port of Hastings.

The Nationals Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron, said The Nationals had long backed the production of hydrogen using the Latrobe Valley’s greatest natural resource.

“We have been behind the HESC project at Loy Yang since its inception, and without the initial support of then Deputy Premier Peter Ryan in the Liberal Nationals Coalition government, the HESC project may never have seen the light of day,” Mr Cameron said.

“The willingness of the Japanese Government to now invest more than $2 billion in commercialising the project with the Latrobe Valley at the epicentre is a tremendous show of confidence in our highly-skilled workforce, existing energy infrastructure and resources.

“This project will provide up to 1000 jobs – 500 of them here in the Valley. At a time when the Andrews Government is stripping the Valley of jobs, this is precisely the sort of investment we need to get behind to shore-up our economic future.”

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath, said the spotlight was now on the State Government to ensure the project proceeds.

“This week in Parliament I am calling on the Andrews Government to ensure the commercialisation of this project can progress by assisting with CarbonNet carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is pivotal in the hydrogen production process,” Ms Bath said.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve the significant economic and emission reduction benefits that a commercial scale clean hydrogen project will deliver, and we can do it right here in Gippsland.

“The onus is now on the Andrews Government to get serious about helping our transition and make sure this $2 billion project comes to fruition.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, said there were good opportunities in proceeding with the proposed CarbonNet CCS project.

“For the hydrogen project to proceed to commercial scale will require CarbonNet and a commercial CCS project of this scale would open significant industrial opportunities for Gippsland while mitigating carbon emissions,” Mr O’Brien said.

“As our oil and gas industry in Bass Strait winds down in coming decades, the opportunity for new jobs that are complementary to our existing workforce and local businesses is profound.  I am hopeful these projects will proceed and help set the foundation of skills, supply chains and expertise for a wider Gippsland hydrogen industry, including green hydrogen, in the future.”