With global and local decarbonisation targets, an energy transition on the horizon, and the race to create a globally competitive renewables industry in Australia, many businesses are looking to transform the way they produce, consume and transport energy.
As clean energy hubs form in Queensland’s State Development Areas (SDAs), businesses large and small are moving in to build the clean energy industries of the future and create opportunities to decarbonise, safeguarding their longevity.
Here in Queensland, as the “Sunshine State”, businesses can access an abundance of low-cost, natural, renewable resources. Plus, the state also offers strategically positioned and zoned land in local SDAs thanks to Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) – a unique branch of the government with the vision of “creating and investing in sustainable places for Queensland to prosper”.
In Gladstone, Salisbury Plains and beyond, EDQ offers land for sale that is:
• zoned and ready for industrial development
• co-located with related businesses, and
• sold with the assistance of a government keen to support clean energy businesses and their supporting players.
Clean energy hubs and their circular economies: helping accelerate business’ clean energy future
As industries adapt and innovate to meet the worldwide challenge of creating not only a decarbonised energy system but entire decarbonised economies, the benefits of participating in a circular economy are becoming crystal clear.
Professor Ian Mackinnon established QUT’s Centre for Clean Energy and Practices to identify clean, hybrid renewable energy practices and demonstrate the flexible use of low- or zero-emissions technologies to Australia and beyond.
He identifies clean energy “hubs with shared infrastructure” as a “great start” in achieving zero emissions by 2050: “having businesses co-located is absolutely essential…there are opportunities for different scales of hubs with different inputs and outputs” in various locations across Queensland.
Circular economies: helping industry to cut costs and carbon emissions
Professor MacKinnon is optimistic about the future of businesses who set up in Queensland to build and benefit from clean energy hubs: “from an infrastructure point of view, there’s a good opportunity for Queenslanders – including privately owned companies and statutory bodies – to coordinate resources and make use of what we have.”
Emma Reiners, General Manager of Brand and Marketing from ACCIONA Energía – who are installing photovoltaic plant up to 600MWp at the Gladstone SDA clean energy hub – commented on the benefits of being part of a circular economy: “Being part of a closed-loop economy means there are benefits from a broader environmental perspective. A lot of organisations are focused on a circular economy: you can’t look at things in isolation anymore, instead we must look at being part of an ecosystem”.
The transition from a linear economy – where waste is disposed of in landfill – to a circular economy – where materials are circulated instead of disposed of and new materials aren’t required to be produced ¬– is an essential element of clean energy hubs.
Materials partnerships as part of a circular economy greatly benefit businesses from both a cost and carbon-saving perspective. Cost savings can be further optimised when industries join a clean energy hub with shared resources, shared infrastructure, and shared costs.
A good example of the benefits of participating in a circular economy is found in the clean energy hub at Gladstone SDA: the reagents and offtake agreement between high-purity aluminum materials producer Alpha HPA and chemicals manufacturer Orica.
The sharing of materials in this partnership includes Alpha HPA using chemical reagents generated by Orica for its aluminum production, while Orica in turn will use by-products of Alpha HPA’s production in their own manufacturing processes.
Clean energy hubs: helping businesses to achieve their decarbonisation goals
Clean energy hubs are also beneficial in helping businesses that are traditionally difficult to decarbonise to achieve their decarbonisation goals. A Queensland example – again in the growing clean energy hub at Gladstone SDA – is the Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Corporation partnership.
These companies are working together to explore the potential of constructing a hydrogen plant at Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery as a clean energy supply for their refinery (and for Sumitomo to supply clean energy to other industries).
The Gladstone SDA has also fostered another circular economy alliance: ACCIONA Energía are partnering with the CG-H2 consortium led by Stanwell to supply clean solar energy from their photovoltaic plant to power the consortium’s proposed large-scale green hydrogen electrolysis facility.
The numerous advantages of joining one of Queensland’s clean energy hubs
Beyond the benefits of a circular economy, participating in a “hub” approach in one of Queensland SDAs has many potential advantages, including:
- close proximity to interrelated skilled labour, materials, and resources
- shared – and therefore more affordable – infrastructure corridors including rail, gas, and power
- proximity to major deep-water ports and various transportation options
- greater likelihood of attracting business and investors
- the ability to both secure existing jobs and create new jobs
- the possibility for these clean energy hubs to become technological innovation hot spots, allowing businesses to sell their clean energy and renewable solutions to the world, and
- support from EDQ (when purchasing EDQ land) to streamline
the application and approvals processes and help new businesses in the SDAs to get established more quickly.
EDQ: committed to helping Queensland realise the future of clean energy
Debbie McNamara, General Manager at Economic Development Queensland, discussed EDQ’s role in helping industry proponents to accelerate their clean energy futures: “At EDQ, we’re pushing for clean energy in our SDAs: we’re keen to support clean energy businesses and supporting players, keen to do deals and provide practical support to streamline the application and approvals processes. We’ve been helping some of Australia’s industry giants and supporting players move into our SDAs.”
Dimitry Danilovich, Director of Development from ACCIONA Energía, discussed the benefits of working with EDQ to establish their operation in an SDA: “EDQ is not looking at the SDA from the perspective of maximising leasing dollars, but in terms of bringing in large-scale investment development and helping parts of the supply chain to succeed. EDQ assisted us with introductions to hydrogen developers … the whole range of commercial issues we need to negotiate with EDQ went smoothly because at the forefront of their agenda, EDQ has industry growth as its priority.”
Rob Williamson, Chief Operations Officer at Alpha HPA, identified the benefits of both co-location with other key industry players and working with EDQ: “Alpha HPA chose the Gladstone SDA as the primary location for us to develop our HPA first project because of the proximity to industrial services in the Gladstone region, but also because our key business partner, Orica, is located there who is a key supplier of reagents to our process. EDQ have been fantastic to deal with both in the initial land option agreement and then the final purchase of the land. They accommodated a number of modifications to the agreement that supported our project and its progression and the people at EDQ are highly motivated to make things happen for Alpha HPA.”
Rio Tinto agreed: “EDQ is a trusted and valuable partner and stakeholder for Rio Tinto Yarwun’s Residue Management Area (RMA) operations…We have worked with EDQ on multiple initiatives that have resulted in mutually beneficial outcomes not only for us, but for the Gladstone region. The location of our RMA operations provides significant advantages for Rio Tinto Yarwun, and having EDQ as our neighbour helps us achieve the strategic vision for the facility. We look forward to many more years of this strong, valued, and shared partnership with our trusted neighbour.”
Building towards a clean energy future
In Queensland, many businesses are joining clean energy hubs forming in Queensland’s SDAs. By working together with EDQ, businesses have a unique opportunity to build, safeguard or accelerate their own clean energy futures.
To find out more head to: industrial.edq.com.au/clean-energy