Victoria’s brown coal will be converted into hydrogen for export to Japan under a major project unveiled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The Commonwealth and Victorian governments have each pledged $50 million towards the hydrogen energy supply chain pilot in the Latrobe Valley, which will also be backed by the Japanese government.
The multi-billion dollar project will produce liquefied hydrogen from brown coal, which is expected to be used in Japan for power generation and to fuel electric vehicles.
Construction of the pilot facility is expected to start in early 2019, with the first shipment of hydrogen scheduled for 2020/21.
“It is amazing to think that brown coal here in Victoria will be keeping the lights on in Japan,” Mr Turnbull said during a visit to the region on Thursday.
“Our strategic support for this fuel of the future, hydrogen, opens up new possibilities for innovation and energy.
“It will see brown coal from here in the Latrobe Valley converted to hydrogen, liquefied, and then exported to Japan.”
Mr Turnbull said the project is in line with government efforts to invest in energy sources of the future and meet emission reduction commitments.
The project is expected to create 400 jobs in the Latrobe Valley.
“We are focused on creating the investment environment to drive projects like this one to create new industries and more jobs,” the prime minister said.
“It is the technological brilliance, the investment confidence, the optimism of Australians and Japanese working together that will ensure there is a very ancient resource brown coal produces one of the critically important fuels of the future.”
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said the state Labor government backed the pilot project.
“Hydrogen is a fuel of the future and we want to capitalise on that right here in the Latrobe Valley,” she said.
The Greens were disappointed by the announcement.
“This is an extremely irresponsible decision by (premier) Daniel Andrews that provides false hope for the people of the Latrobe Valley and will create more coal pollution,” Greens MP Ellen Sandell said.