Southwest town holds key to country’s renewable future

THE Maranoa will soon be home to a state-of-the-art renewable gas plant, set to pave the way for Australia's renewable energy future.

The $2.2million methane production demonstration plant, set to be fully commissioned by 2022, will produce 620kg of hydrogen per year, which will convert to 74 gigajoules of renewable methane that will service regional Queensland and east coast gas users.

The Morrison Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will provide $1.1 million in funding to APA Group to build the modular demonstration plant at Wallumbilla.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said the project was not only a great innovation, but could provide a number of benefits for regional communities and east coast gas users.

"It is great to see industry working on new methods to blend hydrogen into existing gas infrastructure by creating renewable methane," he said.

"This type of innovative work is exactly what we need to see to grow our domestic hydrogen industry.

"Integrating renewable energy sources in Australia's gas distribution system is a crucial step in delivering long-term secure and reliable energy, and reducing emissions."

Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said innovation in the region could play an essential role in the development of Australia's future renewable energy sector.

"This demonstration plant has the potential to diversify Wallumbilla's economy, create jobs for future generations and be one of the leaders in the renewable methane field," Mr Littleproud said.

"Science and innovation play key roles in developing new opportunities, not only in urban areas but in rural areas too - Wallumbilla will be the site for these developments."

APA has partnered with Southern Green Gas to develop the project to develop the renewable methane process.

Methane will be generated using solar-generate electricity, water and CO2 from the air, and can then be stored in existing natural gas pipelines.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said renewable methane could enable the decarbonisation of Australia's existing gas infrastructure, and that htenew demonstration plant was crucial in the country's future.

"The project offers the chance to assess the benefits of using methane to 'green' gas networks," he said.

"Renewable methane is in effect indistinguishable from the methane that currently fills our natural gas pipelines.

"The gas network is expected to play a key role in supporting the decarbonisation of Australia's energy future."

Mr Miller said the project would demonstrate the viability of producing renewable methane from solar power.

This project supports some of the priority work areas of the National Hydrogen Strategy by working to reduce the production costs of electrolyser technologies and blending hydrogen into local gas networks. This funding adds to the $500 million the Australian Government has committed to hydrogen development since 2015.

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