A landmark $7 million investment from the Federal Government’s Strategic University Reform Fund (SURF) will significantly boost the capabilities of the Hycel Technology Hub and further establish south-west Victoria as a regional hub of hydrogen expertise.
The Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism & Investment and the Federal Member for Wannon, joined Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin at the Warrnambool campus for the official announcement.
The Hycel Technology Hub research and training facility will be constructed at Deakin’s Warrnambool campus and is expected to be complete by December 2022. The Hub will become one of Australia’s first regional hydrogen hubs – a key element in Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy – and specialise in developing, testing, training, demonstrating, and manufacturing hydrogen fuel technology.
Professor Martin said the new Hub would create a regional cluster of expertise able to tap into the global hydrogen economy and supply chains, predicted to be worth $US2.5 trillion, generate 30 million new jobs and cut emissions by six billion tonnes annually by 2050.
“The Hycel Technology Hub will provide the specialist equipment, facilities, research expertise and industry partnerships that will unlock new markets and expedite the uptake of hydrogen as a future fuel in Australia,” Professor Martin said.
“The Hub will feature Australia’s first large fuel cell manufacturing line, which will also test fuel cells for heavy vehicles and industry. The facility will also allow testing of existing fuel cells right here in Victoria rather than sending them overseas to Canada or Germany. This will save both energy and time – we anticipate that testing in Victoria will cut waiting periods by two to three years.
“Importantly, the Hub will also support training, education and social licence programs to ready the Australian workforce for the hydrogen jobs of the future.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Alfred Deakin Professor Julie Owens, said the Hycel Technology Hub would be a ‘living laboratory’ that translates laboratory discoveries into real-world solutions to global energy challenges.
“There’s no doubt that hydrogen is a key part of Australia’s clean energy future,” Professor Owens said.
“The Hub will be Australia’s first commercial-grade hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing and prototyping operation and confirms Deakin’s and its partners’ commitment to sustainable technologies and applied innovation.
“The purpose-built Hub will provide the perfect location for Deakin’s advanced materials, energy systems, IT and social sciences researchers to collaborate and build strong partnerships with industry, research partners, government and the community.
“For example, Hycel’s partnership with PACCAR Australia to develop the first Australian-made high-performance single stack fuel cells for heavy vehicles will propel Australia’s hydrogen heavy vehicle industry and unlock new markets.
“Hycel is also undertaking a feasibility study to convert Deakin Warrnambool campus to 100 per cent hydrogen, which will build upon the $2.4 million Deakin, Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre Hydrogen Testbeds, undertaking research already delivering regional jobs and move the university a step closer to its objective of becoming carbon-neutral by 2025.
“It is this type of industry-led research that connects Australia’s best minds and solves real-world problems.”
Minister Tehan said that further investment in Deakin University’s Hycel would help position Australia at the forefront of innovation and job creation and significantly boost the community.
“By driving market readiness in transport and gas industries, Hycel’s hydrogen technologies support Australia’s economic goal of ‘H2 under $2’,” Minister Tehan said.
“On a local level, it is estimated that the Hub will create 210 full-time regional and sector jobs – including jobs in fuel cell manufacturing and pilots – across the region over the next ten years.
“Importantly, Deakin is also committed to bringing the Wannon community along on the Hycel journey, with strong education and training partnerships already in place with South West TAFE. The new Hub will also include a dedicated Education and Training wing that aims to demonstrate and demystify hydrogen technology and usage.
“The Hub will become one of Australia’s first training facilities that will ready Australians for a hydrogen-powered future, and I’m thrilled that it’ll be located right here in Warrnambool.”