Goondiwindi is one step closer to turning wastewater into hydrogen energy

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Goondiwindi Regional Council is one step closer to beginning an exciting new project that will turn residential wastewater into renewable hydrogen energy.

In partnership with the Hydrogen Collective (H2C) and the Queensland University of Technology, Council is proposing to install a hydrogen production facility at the Goondiwindi wastewater treatment plant. The new system would use electrolysis to break down the wastewater into oxygen and hydrogen: Council would use the resulting oxygen to improve the efficiency of its wastewater treatment, while the hydrogen would be sold on to local businesses as a renewable energy alternative.

Pending more external funding, the pioneering new approach means the Goondiwindi Region could become one of the first areas in Australia to produce and utilise hydrogen for local use.

Mayor of the Goondiwindi Region the Honourable Cr Lawrence Springborg AM said hydrogen has been identified as the fuel of the future.

“The technology we’ll be using isn’t necessarily new, but as far as we know it certainly hasn’t been used in this combination and towards this outcome before,” Cr Springborg said. “We’re very excited to be one of the first councils in the country to be involved with this process and to look at innovative ways of turning what was a waste product into a renewable energy source for local industry.

“While most of the proposed national hydrogen production will be focused on export, ours will be one of the first projects of its kind that is specifically for the local economy. Once more funding is secured, and with sufficient uptake from local industry, we could be looking at producing up to 1,350 tonnes of hydrogen per year for local businesses as a cheaper, greener energy alternative,” the Mayor said.

H2C is proposed to manage the production and sale of the project’s hydrogen. It has consulted with several large industrial businesses in Goondiwindi who have shown interest in converting to using hydrogen once available, including cotton gins, feedlots and manufacturing companies.

The project’s hydrogen production would also have the added benefit of creating oxygen as a by-product. Council would then harness that oxygen in its wastewater treatment process, which will greatly improve efficiency and provide a cleaner, greener operation at a lower cost. It will also improve the quality of the effluent output, which means the treated wastewater can then be re-used in more ways.

Council agreed to contribute $50,000 towards detailed design, legal and administrative costs of the hydrogen project during its May Ordinary Meeting last week, with a further $3.5 million in principle marked for the completion of the necessary renewal of the wastewater treatment plant over the next two years. The rest of the costs of the project will be funded by private equity and external funding sources.

Cr Springborg said the process would help to future-proof the wastewater treatment plant in Goondiwindi.

“Council had already identified several major upgrades required at the Goondiwindi wastewater treatment plant over the next 10 years as part of its Asset Management Plan,” he said. “Using methods recommended in the Plan, those requirements would potentially cost more than $20 million to realise.

“Instead, by partnering with private enterprise in this innovative project, we will be able to achieve similar outcomes at a greatly reduced cost to ratepayers. I can’t emphasise enough what a benefit and opportunity this is for Goondiwindi region residents.”

If the project meets currently expected timelines, Goondiwindi could be producing hydrogen as early as December next year with commercial sales to follow soon after.

4th June 2021 at 12:00 AM