INNOVATE: The Northern Oil Refinery at Yarwun is currently experimenting with hydrogen technology.
INNOVATE: The Northern Oil Refinery at Yarwun is currently experimenting with hydrogen technology. Tegan Annett

Conference helped with our hydrogen journey

IT ARGUABLY put Gladstone on the map when it comes to our capabilities in dealing with hydrogen technology and it's hoped further relationships can be formed at the 2019 Developing Northern Australia Conference.

Saddling up for his third trip to the conference after first attending in 2017, Gladstone region councillor PJ Sobhanian will attend this year's conference in Karratha on July 11-12.

"It's a very important conference and brings in a lot of leaders from the community and overseas in various fields and expertise," Cr Sobhanian said.

"A couple of years ago when I attended on behalf of council I brought back a report and in it was hydrogen as a future opportunity for our region.

"When we raised hydrogen in 2017 everyone looked around said 'what is that?' and I didn't know a lot about it until I learnt about it at the conference."

Cr Sobhanian said relationships formed at the conference since 2017 helped people realise Gladstone's potential in the hydrogen industry.

"It not only got local but state and national attention so we were now hearing about Gladstone as, in my opinion, the ideal location for hydrogen technology," he said.

"It put us on the mind of a lot of people and fast-forward to 2019 and we're hearing the good work others are doing, such as Mr (Zac) Beers and Mr Shorten, who are now announcing their vision for hydrogen and included in that is Gladstone.

"If we take opportunities where we can learn, bring that learning back and try and act for our community then we can get some really good outcomes that are economically viable and also sustainable."

Last month Opposition Leader Bill Shorten promised Gladstone would be the home of a $3million National Hydrogen Innovation Hub, part of a $1billion plan for Australia's emerging hydrogen industry.

 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announce the $3 million hydrogen innovation hub and centre of excellence for Gladstone at the Northern Oil Refinery.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announce the $3 million hydrogen innovation hub and centre of excellence for Gladstone at the Northern Oil Refinery. Mike Richards GLA220119NOIL

"These things don't come about overnight and they are not only the action of council but other people," Cr Sobhanian said.

"Our crucial role is advocating for the community and putting out best case forward and we can't do that without the knowledge and this (conference) is a small part of that."

The trip is estimated to cost $3000, including the $990 registration cost plus travel, accommodation and some meals.

"This is ratepayer money we are speaking about and we are very conscience of that," Cr Sobhanian said.

"I'll be flying economy... we are being frugal with the money we're spending.

"The reality is if we don't participate in big events such as this we get left out.

"If we don't go and meet others we can't expect them to come and meet us in Gladstone.

"If we can't extend ourselves and learn new things we'll be left in the dark ages and I can't accept that."

 

Gladstone regional councillor PJ Sobhanian takes a celebratory selfie with members of Boyne Island Lions Club and Conservation Volunteers Australia on Tannum Sands Beach, after it was named Queensland's Cleanest Beach.
Gladstone regional councillor PJ Sobhanian takes a celebratory selfie with members of Boyne Island Lions Club and Conservation Volunteers Australia on Tannum Sands Beach, after it was named Queensland's Cleanest Beach. Matt Taylor GLA060618BEACH

Cr Sobhanian said councils should be striving to deliver more for its ratepayers other than "footpaths and roads".

"A footpath I can walk on or a road I can walk on is the bare minimum I expect from my council to do as a resident," he said.

"To me a good or great council is one that looks forward to the future for the hopes, aspirations and visions of our community.

"That's the hard work we do today so that we will not only survive but thrive."