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Friends of the Earth launches petition to oppose coal to hydrogen project

An environmental group is appealing to the community to join in to stop Victorian brown coal from being burned to produce hydrogen.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s No More Gas campaigner Freja Leonard today announced the launch of a petition to oppose the controversial new Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project proposed by an international consortium for the LaTrobe Valley. Brown coal would be gassified to produce hydrogen which would then be piped to the Port of Hastings for liquefaction.

The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project[1], a partnership between international fossil energy companies including Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd (KHI), Royal Dutch Shell and AGL, would turn brown coal into hydrogen for export from the Port of Hastings to Japan, while proposing to use carbon capture and storage in an attempt to store carbon dioxide (C02) in disused, offshore gas wells – a technology that has not been proven at this scale anywhere in the world.

Amid a climate crisis, this new coal project would extend the life of Australia’s dirtiest fossil fuel and, according to analysis by The Australia Institute, create between 2.9 to 3.8 million tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of adding over 700,000 petrol cars to the road[2].

“Gassifying coal to produce hydrogen will drag Victoria further from realising our emission reduction targets of net zero by 2045 and drag the climate further into the danger zone”, said Freja Leonard.

“Carbon Capture and Storage is an excuse for fossil fuel industries to keep polluting. Chevron’s Gorgon project in WA has never met its target of 80% lock down of carbon from gas projects. Even the global exemplars, two CCS projects in Norway have bled carbon out of their storage basins[3]. So to say that CCS is going to make a brown hydrogen project carbon neutral in Victoria is literally a pipe dream”, said Ms Leonard.

“The companies involved can spin this as clean hydrogen all they want but the reality is if it’s using coal this is just another dirty fossil fuel project that the climate can’t afford”, Ms Leonard said.

Residents of Hastings have already faced a small taste of the risk associated with hydrogen export when a hydrogen tanker malfunctioned, sprouting a gas flame from the tanker in January 2022[4]. “Hydrogen is the finest gas so it’s the hardest to contain and is notoriously volatile. It embrittles steel and is highly flammable[5]. I am sure that the residents of Hastings don’t want another potential Hindenburg disaster on their doorstep.”

“This project is an affront to Australia’s climate commitments, to community safety and at $A2.14-2.74/kg to produce from brown coal[6] is unlikely to pay economic dividends. Through this petition we are urging the Victorian Government to refuse this project. If hydrogen is to have any place in our energy future it must be produced using clean energy”, said Ms Leonard.

The petition launch coincides with The Victorian Greens Energy and Resources Transition Amendment (Transition Away from Coal) Bill 2023 which is currently before the Legislative Assembly.
The petition is on the Parliament of Victoria website at

For further comment contact Freja Leonard 0400 611 896








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