Toyota Australia, backed by investment from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), has announced plans to convert the former Altona manufacturing site into a $7.4 million Hydrogen Centre.
As part of the Hydrogen Centre project, the existing manufacturing infrastructure will be repurposed to become Victoria’s first integrated hydrogen site, which will include an electrolyser, commercial grade hydrogen refuelling station and an education centre.
ARENA is contributing $3.1 million towards the project with Toyota investing $4.3 million.
When completed, the facility will be capable of producing and storing hydrogen to fill fuel-cell vehicles in minutes which gives the technology an obvious advantage over fully-electric models. The quicker refuelling will appeal to those in the heavy transport industry, by providing a viable replacement for diesel.
Toyota Australia's President and CEO Matt Callachor said: "This is a very exciting time for Toyota Australia. Today's announcement with ARENA aligns with our global drive to promote sustainable mobility and to play a leading role in the transition to a decarbonised future.”
"Hydrogen has the potential to play a pivotal role in the future because it can be used to store and transport energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources to power many things, including vehicles like the Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV).”
Currently, Mirai Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles are on loan to AusNet Services and Mondo businesses as part of real-world testing with Toyota’s hydrogen vehicle loan program. The Altona site is already used to refuel the cars.
This latest loan comes after a successful trial with the Hobson’s Bay City Council which was extended by two months after the initial 12-week loan.
Mr Callachor went on to say, "right now, the biggest factor to the success of hydrogen being widely available is the lack of infrastructure. The sooner we move to a zero emissions society, the better, and Toyota is committed to making this a reality."
ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller said Toyota's Hydrogen Centre would demonstrate hydrogen as a viable fuel source for transport and as an energy storage medium. 

"Toyota is helping to pave the way for more renewably powered vehicles in Australia, where the uptake of electric vehicles has been slower than other countries,” said Mr Miller.
He also added, "Australia holds a competitive advantage to play a global role in the emerging hydrogen export market due to our existing expertise and infrastructure. We're excited to see Toyota add their skills to the mix and be a major player in increasing the reach of hydrogen applications in different sectors.”
Toyota is not alone in making a substantial investment in FCEV and the necessary infrastructure to support the technology. Hyundai and Kia recently revealed a long-term plan dubbed ‘FCEV Vision 2030’ to further develop hydrogen fuel-cell technology.
Hyundai Australia also supplied 20 Nexo fuel cell vehicles to the ACT Government as part of the Hornsdale Wind Farm project and Hydrogen Mobility Australia has been established to assist with the transition from conventional fossil fuels to new-age renewable energy sources.
Construction of the new Hydrogen Centre is set to begin this year with the education centre which should be operational by December. The electrolyser and hydrogen refuelling station will follow and are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2020.
More: All News