‘Super-hybrid’ green hydrogen and energy project proposed for Miriam Vale near Gladstone

A $2 billion pumped hydro and green hydrogen facility, dubbed a “super-hybrid” project, has been proposed for Gladstone in central Queensland.

It is the latest in a series of large-scale green hydrogen proposals in the region.

Company Sunshine Hydro is behind the proposal which would see new pumped hydro generation built, as well as facilities to create and liquefy green hydrogen.

Chairman Michael Myer said the project would be built on around 750 acres of land near Miriam Vale, south of Gladstone.

That parcel of land forms part of a larger 7,500-acre site purchased by project partners Burnett Mary Regional Group, a natural resource management organization based in Bundaberg.

“The site that we’ve chosen has its own natural [water] catchment. We’ve modeled the 50-year rainfall and we know that, on average, we’ll be able to fill the reservoirs from the natural catchments,” Mr Myer said.

“No year is average … as we have dry years. So we’re looking to be able to top up using desalinated water.

“So we will have a combination of natural catchment and desalinated water able to provide the water for pumped hydro and for electrolysis, which is so important.”

A man stands in front of a visual display
Sunshine Hydro chair Michael Myer says the feasibility study will be funded entirely by his organization and existing partners.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

It would not be just pumped hydro supplying power to the project and to the wider electricity network.

The project, known as Flavian, will also use energy from solar and wind proposals in development as part of the Central Queensland Power project from Sunshine Hydro’s other partnering organisation, Energy Estate.

Software makes project possible

Mr Myer said the project was only made possible because of specialized software that allowed the different energy sources to come together in an optimal way.

“They’re not just singular assets, they’re integrated. And this software, the analogy I use, is it’s a bit like a conductor with an orchestra,” he said.

“And that’s exactly what happens with this software.”

Infographic displaying how different energy sources will connect to one anotherInfographic displaying how different energy sources will connect to one another
Sunshine Hydro’s proposal will feed in energy from its various sources to green hydrogen production facilities and the grid.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

Mr Myer said the project would create 500 jobs during the construction stage as well as 60-80 ongoing full-time jobs managing the project.

He said Sunshine Hydro and its partners were funding the feasibility study, but they had already received interest from “major institutions” in funding construction, though he was not permitted to say who.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2026, pending approvals, and energy generation is expected to begin in 2028.

Two boards displaying infographics and promotional material for Sunshine Hydro Two boards displaying infographics and promotional material for Sunshine Hydro
Sunshine Hydro expects everything to be operational by 2028.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

Council welcomes project

Gladstone Regional Council acting mayor Kahn Goodluck said the proposal was a “strong vote of confidence in the Gladstone region”.

“I was talking to a worker at the Gladstone Power Station just last week and he was telling me he doesn’t like working with coal. He doesn’t like going home with coal stuck up his nose, covered in soot from head to toe ,” Mr. Goodluck said.

“What people like is the security that it provides their families, the livelihood, the decent pay, and the good conditions that it has.

Hydrogen takes to water

A SeaLink boat parked in the Gladstone Marina. A SeaLink boat parked in the Gladstone Marina.
SeaLink have been granted $5 million from the state government to build a green hydrogen-powered boat. (ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

Soon after the Sunshine Hydro project was announced, the Queensland government announced funding for another hydrogen project in the region.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said $5 million had been set aside from the $35 million Hydrogen Industry Development Fund (HIDF) for marine company SeaLink to design and construct a passenger vessel powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

“The vessel would operate as a shuttle between Gladstone and LNG facilities on Curtis Island,” Mr Miles said.

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