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A major Japanese corporation is backing Central Queensland’s $1 billion Gladstone Energy and Ammonia Project through a Memorandum of Understanding with Australian Future Energy.

Australian Future Energy chief executive officer Kerry Parker hailed the agreement with ITOCHU Corporation as the ‘pivot point’ for the domestic hydrogen industry and a validation of the Gladstone project.

The company says the hydrogen project is close to commencing its Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study for the commercial production of low-carbon energy alternatives as soon as 2024.

It is estimated that up to 200 jobs would be supported during the 30-year operational period and 1000 jobs created during the construction phase.

The project is based on a coal gasification plant designed to convert coal into ammonia, synthetic natural gas, and electrical power. Australian Future Energy says it will use both green and ‘blue’ hydrogen technology.

Through its patented technology the Gladstone project is planned to produce about 230,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of ammonia and 14 PJ of pipeline quality gas, which is equal to approximately 91,000 tpa of hydrogen.

Under the MOU:
• ITOCHU will explore the potential investment in Australian Future Energy (AFE). The proceeds are to be used by AFE to support part of the FEED and related works for the feasibility study for the Gladstone project.
• the two parties will explore the potential for ITOCHU to be involved in marketing ammonia and other products from the Gladstone project and subsequent AFE projects to global markets;
• they will work co-operatively to explore the potential for the development and integration of green ammonia, green hydrogen and other renewable energy-related projects in connection with the development of the Gladstone plant; and
• they will explore the potential for additional investment, once the feasibility study is completed, by ITOCHU in either Australian Future Energy or the Gladstone project.

“We are now at a turning point for the Gladstone Energy and Ammonia Project. Potential international investment in the project, from a party as credible as ITOCHU, demonstrates its long-term viability and profitability,” Mr Parker said.