‘Twiggy’ Forrest, AGL look to turn ageing coal plants into futuristic hydrogen hub

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Energy giant AGL will partner with Fortescue Future Industries, chaired by mining billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, to explore the development of a green hydrogen hub in the NSW Hunter Valley.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will involve a 12-month feasibility study into the development of a hydrogen hub on the site of the Liddell and Bayswater coal-fired power stations.

The plants are slated to close in 2023 and 2035 respectively.

Dr Forrest will be joined in the Hunter Valley today by NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean and AGL Managing Director and CEO Graeme Hunt for the announcement.

Hunter Jobs Alliance coordinator Warrick Jordan said while hydrogen won’t “grow massively overnight”, the agreement was an important step.

A man in a suit gives a speech at a formal functionA man in a suit gives a speech at a formal function
Dr Forrest recently travelled to Glasgow for COP26, where he championed hydrogen.(ABC News: James Carmody)

AGL champions hydrogen as jobs driver

AGL has previously announced plans to build a 250MW pumped hydro facility at nearby Bells Mountain, and a grid-scale battery, solar and hydro plant on the Liddell site.

“Over the next 12 months we will undertake a feasibility study which will map key operational and commercial plans for the project and enable the development of a production timeline.”

A train goes through a green paddock in front of an open cut coal mineA train goes through a green paddock in front of an open cut coal mine
The Hunter Valley has the highest density of coal mines in New South Wales.(ABC Upper Hunter: Jake Lapham)

Dr Forrest said hydrogen could play a key role in the future of regional Australia.