North puts forward plan to turbocharge Australia's transition to Net Zero

Townsville Enterprise, in partnership with key stakeholders in energy production across the North, has identified a plan which would see the North Queensland region turbocharge the nation’s transition to Net Zero by 2050.

Identified as one of the most strategic regions in Australia for it’s potential to generate green energy, North Queensland contains the most diverse minerals, mining, processing and export supply chain in Australia, coupled with the highest-quality large-scale renewable energy (wind, solar and water) resources on the Eastern seaboard, and unique geo-political importance.

By unlocking North Queensland’s renewable energy potential, current projections show the region could provide a total economic output of $1 billion annually, from production of up to one million tonnes of green hydrogen, by 2040.

North Queensland has already taken positive steps toward realising the potential of the North-West corridor with a Federal Government submission - led by the North Queensland Hydrogen Consortium (NQH2) requesting Townsville be declared a Hydrogen Cluster.

Townsville Enterprise has identified six key enabling projects to harness this potential, and a proposed investment structure to bring this to reality.


All the ingredients for a sustainable future are right here in North Queensland, and the pipeline of projects to achieve the national target are within reach but we need all levels of Government to enact a bold vision and invest in nation-building projects that will positively benefit all Australians.

Townsville North Queensland is creating an energy economy for the future – we have the best solar and wind resources in the North, dually supported by highly efficient pumped hydro developments such as Kidstone and Hells Gates.

While everyone talks about renewables in our nation’s capital cities, our region does the heavy lifting in terms of copper, zinc, lead mining and processing, and now vanadium, which will drive the delivery of battery manufacturing for renewable energies.

To work towards the nations vision of net zero the North needs investment, and the investment case is compelling; we aren’t asking for a handout but seeking bi-partisan support to achieve what will be the biggest upgrade to our energy consumption and distribution system in over 100 years. Collaborative investment and partnering with the international finance market is the answer.

Across the global financial market, there is strong investment interest for large scale green projects, and North Queensland can deliver this with the resources we have at our fingertips.

We need all levels of government to agree that water and energy are owned by the people of Australia, and we need everyone working together to deliver for the future - the investment into renewables is key for the future development of the entire nation.

Claudia Brumme-Smith

Windlab Project Manager Martin Vries and Townsville Enterprise CEO Claudia Brumme-smith

Windlab, Hughenden

What North Queensland needs from a Net Zero policy agreement

CopperString 2.0

CopperString 2.0 is a 1,000km high-voltage network line that will connect the people, businesses and communities of Mount Isa, Cloncurry and the Northwest Minerals Province to the National Electricity Grid. This game-changing, open access infrastructure will supply reliable, competitively priced and sustainable energy to communities across the North-West. CopperString 2.0 will support major hydrogen and renewable energy projects.

Investment Required: $1.2bn
Potential Jobs: 2,500 construction and 1,000 ongoing

Hells Gate Pumped Storage

The Hells Gate Pumped Storage scheme consists of both an upper and lower storage reservoir. The facility will produce 808MW of green power, which will be enough to power 250,000 homes. It will be installed to transfer water from either Hells Gate Dam or the Burdekin River to enable power storage from renewable projects across the Northwest. The Hells Gate Pumped Storage will equalize the electricity grid, providing consistent and reliable power to the grid regardless of the solar and wind input available at any point in time.

Investment Required: $2.1bn
Potential Jobs: 800 construction and up to 50 ongoing

Recycled Water for Green Hydrogen Treatment

The construction of a water plant and supporting infrastructure at Cleveland Bay would enable production of 15ML/day of industrial grade water to supply hydrogen proponents. The availability of recycled water to support developments of pilot plants will put Townsville in a strong position to produce green hydrogen.

Investment Required: $31.2M
Potential Jobs: 59 construction and 24 ongoing

 Water Pipelines for Green Industries

Townsville has an abundance of available land to help drive sustainable production and manufacturing projects. Between both the Lansdown Precinct and TSDA (Townsville State Development Area) the city’s southern industrial corridor has more than 7,000 hectares of industrial land available. Connecting water supply pipelines will be critical in ensuring these precincts reach their full potential and support the region, and indeed the nations journey towards net zero.

Investment Required: $12M
Potential Jobs: 25 construction and 10 ongoing

Port Expansion

The $1.6 billion Port Expansion Project (PEP) is a long-term development plan for the port. It includes an additional six berths and 152 hectares of reclaimed land. The port expansion is a fundamental piece of infrastructure that will drive forward hydrogen batteries and new economy minerals. The provision of an additional industrial land and dedicated berthing facilities will enable a green energy export hub for the region. Export opportunities will enable lower cost production of sustainable energy for domestic use, which will support Australia’s net zero target.

Investment Required: $1.6bn
Potential Jobs: 2,900 construction

Lansdown Eco Industrial Precinct

The eco-industrial precinct not only supports the use of natural mineral resources for advanced manufacturing and production, but also the use of renewable energy from the approved and co-located Majors Creek Solar Power Station, utilising advanced grid friendly technology and storage to dispatch renewable energy when it is most needed.

Investment Required: $50M
Potential Jobs: 160 construction and 1,603 ongoing

Enabling Private Investment

Northern Australia can be the renewable energy center of the world but it will only be through private and public partnerships that new investment can be achieved. The industry isn’t looking for just Government handouts but rather strategies that underwrite the risk in the startup phase. Now is the time for investment, we need to partner with the international finance market and turbocharge the transition of our economy.

Hear from Copperstring Managing Director, Joseph O’Brien

Our clean industrial ecosystem already exists, and it can be the first net zero industrial ecosystem in Australia – the Townsville to Mount Isa economic zone is already powering global renewable technologies with minerals reserves in copper and zinc, as well as wind and solar farms.

The Copperstring network alone is forecast to deliver an aggregate increase in national income of $80 billion over the period to 2050, and in collaboration with other major projects, our region can advance the national pathway to Net Zero.

With a pipeline of projects identified to successfully achieve long-term emissions and renewable energy targets, established minerals processing facilities - such as Sun Metals which is the world’s largest producer of zinc, lead and silver - are already on track to meet environmentally sustainable energy goals.

One of Australia's leading Net Zero specialists agrees, the real potential is in North Queensland...

The global transition toward a net zero economy will redefine the key ingredients of economic success and will require once in a generation change to occur; regions with industrial capability linked to minerals and advanced manufacturing, very large scale high-quality renewable energy and water, and unconstrained land access will find themselves best able to manage and benefit from this transition.

Managed well, this technology revolution and the growing need for traditional industries to diversify over the next 20 years, will mobilise global capital into regions with technology and ambition not seen before. North and Northwest Queensland are globally significant targets for major investors seeking to diversify and invest in these new economic opportunities.

Matt Rennie

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