New Energy Innovation and Training Centre to accelerate Queensland’s energy transformation

29 August 2023

Publicly owned energy company, Stanwell Corporation is developing a Future Energy Innovation and Training Hub (FEITH) to accelerate Queensland’s energy transformation at the Stanwell Power Station near Rockhampton.

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni said, “The nation cannot meet its legislated emissions reduction targets without serious action in Queensland, so we are delivering the energy transition that Queenslanders and Australians voted for.

“The first place the Premier and I went following the release of our plan was the Stanwell Power Station to give the workforce the Government’s commitment to their job security and outline our blueprint to convert it into a Clean Energy Hub.

“We’re so serious about our plan that we’re legislating our renewable energy targets – 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035 – and putting our Jobs Security Guarantee into law.”

Minister de Brenni continued, “Because Queenslanders kept their energy network in public hands, they have unprecedented control over the destiny of their energy system in its transition to 70% renewable energy by 2032.

“While other states are scrambling to get out of coal-fired power, or even prop it up for longer, it’s Queensland who is now leading the nation’s orderly climate and energy transition.

“The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan is the most comprehensive, accountable, realistic, transparent, and effective plan for an energy transition – not just in the nation, but quite possibly the world.

“Our Queensland Draft Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap demonstrates our unique ability to deliver benefits for local communities through infrastructure, transport, housing and accommodation, workforce, supply chains, waste management, biodiversity protection other land uses, and social infrastructure, as well as local industry and First Nations considerations.

“We need to set the standard because public ownership gives us an extra layer of accountability to our workers, communities, and the environment, as well as to energy security and affordability for households and businesses.

“We’ve always said that Queensland’s publicly owned power stations will continue to play an important role in our future energy system as clean energy hubs because they are located in strong parts of the network with strategic advantages like grid connection, a highly skilled workforce, established community relationships, and land.”

The size of a shopping centre, the hub will provide facilities to pilot innovative new energy technology, including energy storage and hydrogen. It will also provide a real-life, hands-on training environment for Queensland energy employees to develop the skills needed to work on new energy technologies.

Stanwell Chief Executive Officer, Michael O’Rourke shared that “the FEITH project will be the visible bright spark of Stanwell’s transformation to clean energy.

“Our vision is for FEITH to be a catalyst for advancing the energy transformation, not just at Stanwell, but for the entire State.

“It will be instrumental in the company’s goal to become a major provider of clean energy to Queensland and meeting our commitments to the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

“It will increase our understanding of new energy technologies and their application in building Stanwell’s renewable energy portfolio and driving the development of Queensland hydrogen industry.

“And just as importantly, it will help us create the energy workforce Queensland needs for the future through hands-on skills development and training,” said Mr O’Rourke.

The first technology to be tested at FEITH will be an iron flow battery, in partnership with Queensland-based company Energy Storage Industries – Asia Pacific (ESI).

ESI Managing Director Stuart Parry said that the pilot project with Stanwell was a first in Australia for iron flow batteries – a grid-scale and environmentally friendly energy storage solution.

“Queensland is at the forefront of battery technology development, and this transaction reinforces the state’s reputation as a leader in the renewable energy economy,” Mr Parry said.

“ESI is already establishing a $70 million facility in Maryborough to manufacture iron flow batteries, and will manufacture the electrolyte solution in Townsville, supporting jobs and investment in the regions.

“We look forward to working with Stanwell to deliver this pilot project as an important step in deploying sustainable energy storage to help underpin Queensland’s energy transformation.”

A revolutionary 5 MW hydrogen electrolyser will also be validated in a pilot project at FEITH. The super-efficient electrolyser is being developed by Australian startup Hysata.

CEO Paul Barret said, “Hysata is proud to be a foundation technology project for Stanwell’s new FEITH, where we will partner to commercially demonstrate our high efficiency electrolyser.

“This project is an important step towards Hysata reaching gigawatt scale manufacturing by 2026 to fulfil burgeoning demand for our electrolysers.

“We congratulate Stanwell for their investment in renewables and new technologies critical to decarbonise the power grid and scale green hydrogen for use in hard to abate sectors.

“We look forward to leveraging Stanwell’s electrical infrastructure and highly skilled workforce through this project, to commercialise world leading technology that can accelerate the path to net zero.”

Stanwell has also partnered with CQUniversity to collaborate on skills, training and technology initiatives focused on renewable hydrogen and battery energy storage systems.

Professor Nick Klomp, Vice-Chancellor and President of CQUniversity Australia, said “this is an extremely important and exciting milestone when it comes to clean energy production in Central Queensland.

“The Future Energy Innovation and Training Hub (FEITH) will provide a tremendous opportunity for Central Queensland to become a leader in not just clean energy production but also in clean energy research, training, and skills development.

“CQUniversity is proud to partner with Stanwell to develop a skills and training program for existing professionals, while also expanding opportunities for a new generation to acquire the skills required for emerging technology such as hydrogen and battery storage.

“Our researchers will also benefit through deep industry collaboration and co-location, allowing them to work on new innovations that will help to further advance the renewables industry in the region and beyond.”

Stanwell will complement CQU’s research facilities with access to FEITH, enhancing the real-world applications of the research by enabling hands-on training and technology development at a commercial demonstration scale.

The project is proposed to be delivered in phases, starting with the establishment of common infrastructure and civil works. Future phases include a skills academy and demonstration centre, where the community can come to learn about new energy technologies.