The outlook of the Deakin University Warrnambool campus' Hycel hydrogen-powered technology looks promising with appointments announced and future funding opportunities.
The futuristic Hycel Hydrogen Hub project will research and test zero-emission trucks and buses running on the water-based fuel from the city's Deakin University campus.
Mid-December last year federal Education Minister Dan Tehan announced $2 million for a hydrogen energy precinct at the Warrnambool campus.
The seed money kick-started plans for Warrnambool to lead the way in having Australia's first facility for developing hydrogen utilisation technologies at scale on 4.5 hectares at the Warrnambool site.
Now momentum is building with Deakin appointing three project specialists to establish the energy and transport program.
The three federally funded appointees start in June and are the first of up to eight jobs expected to be created over the next few years during the hub's establishment phase, if as planned the hub expands to a fully operational hydrogen research, testing and manufacturing facility.
Deakin Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Alfred Deakin Professor Julie Owens said the Hycel program was a unique and pivotal opportunity to drive Warrnambool and the south-west's role in a promising growth industry for Australia.
"Warrnambool will be at the Australian forefront of a new global industry," she said.
"Through Hycel, the emerging hydrogen industry is a major opportunity for south-west Victoria, enabling the region to benefit from the global transition to low-carbon economies and to test and deliver technological solutions to world-wide problems. It can bring new jobs and new economic and social opportunities.
"Ambitious and forward-thinking professionals such as our three newly appointed specialists will know that being involved in this industry from the start is more than just a job, it's a career-making opportunity to progress Australia's role in the multi-billion-dollar hydrogen economy."
Mr Tehan said the latest briefing he had from Deakin was that the Hycel hydrogen project continued to roll out.
He said he hoped that in future there would be further announcements as more and more focus goes on to hydrogen as a fuel source.
The MP said the federal government had specifically announced this week an investment in low emissions technologies and there was potential for the Hycel program to draw from that fund.
Mr Tehan said that improved domestic students numbers for the Warrnambool campus showed growth, especially through the hydrogen project.
"The Warrnambool campus is on a growth path that none of us could have imagined three or four years ago," he said.
"There has been an incredible amount of work put into the Warrnambool campus and we're seeing that hard work pay dividends. But, there is a long way to go.
"While I am the federal education minister they will have my full backing in all they seek to do."
Mr Tehan said the hydrogen project was up and running.
"The initial outcomes are successful and the project is in a very strong positive to draw on extra funding," he said.
Mr Tehan has welcomed the release by the government of the Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper, which would bring a strategic and system-wide view to future investments in low emissions technologies.
The government will back new and emerging technologies that will increase the productivity of export sectors like agriculture, energy, metals and minerals processing.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the government saw enormous potential in technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, soil carbon sequestration, biofuels, resources and energy exports to reduce emissions while strengthening our economy.
The government has already made substantial investments in clean energy technology, with more than $10 billion invested in more than 670 clean energy projects with a total project value in excess of $35 billion.
Through the Warrnambool Hycel program, industry training, research partnerships and fuel cell technology will be applied to heavy vehicles including trucks, and hydrogen tested for its potential to safely replace natural gas for future zero-emission homes.
The appointment of an experienced program manager will help to attract investment in the project (and, in turn, to local economies) and will enable the building of cross-industry collaborations with Australia's leading research, innovation and technology institutions.
Supported by a project officer and communications and engagement coordinator, the program manager and team will work with Deakin to support the interests and needs of stakeholders and to navigate regulatory pathways to success.
"There is enormous potential in this project, to fulfill Warrnambool's ambitions to be a leader in carbon neutrality, and to pioneer Australia's clean energy and transport future," Professor Owens said.
"Working on this program, means your legacy will be felt across the country, and potentially the world, as well as right here in Warrnambool.
"Locally in the longer term, the program will boost education, training and employment opportunities for people in the south-west."
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