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Hydrogen highway along eastern seaboard gathers steam

A groundbreaking collaboration between Queensland, NSW and Victoria is underway to establish a renewable hydrogen refuelling network for trucks on the eastern seaboard.

The state-led campaign to go green on the nation’s busiest road freight network will start with four hydrogen stations along the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney by 2026.

Under a tri-state Memorandum of Understanding announced today, NSW and Victoria will contribute a combined $20 million to build the first four stations and offer grants for long-haul hydrogen freight trucks, with an expectation industry will match the investment.

Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said hydrogen presents an enormous opportunity for the states, including emissions reduction opportunities and fuel security benefits.

“When you consider the impacts of the Covid pandemic and international conflicts, it’s clear Australia must achieve energy independence, to shield our nation from foreign companies and foreign powers,” de Brenni said.

“Low emissions electricity and hydrogen fuelled heavy transport will sit at the heart of the renewable energy eco-system.

“Transport is the fastest growing sector for emissions and ironically it could also be the key to reducing them.

“However, government support is needed to help develop refuelling stations so transport companies can economically invest in new vehicles.”

The final price of green hydrogen ranges from $9-15 per kg, according to one report. For it to reach parity with diesel, government estimates suggest it needs to reach a delivered price between $4-6, subject to price fluctuations in diesel.

With 25 per cent of road traffic between Sydney and Melbourne, NatRoad CEO Warren Clark welcomed today’s news, but said there is still a long way to go.

“We are years away from our industry transitioning to being fully fuelled by renewables and hydrogen is still to establish itself as a viable option but this is an important first step,” said Clark.

“The potential impact of today’s announcement is significant.

“Almost 9 million tonnes of road freight are moved each way between Sydney and Melbourne alone – which is 1200 freight vehicle trips a day.

“Sydney–Brisbane road freight is more than 4 million tonnes, which equates to an average of 556 freight vehicle trips per day.

“And Melbourne–Brisbane road freight is more than 1.6 million tonnes, involving an average of 220 freight vehicle trips per day.

Clark added that whoever wins the federal election has a lot of work to do in terms of putting in place regulatory standards and incentives that encourage the uptake of renewable-powered heavy vehicles in a market that does not yet exist.

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