Regional Carbon Innovation Centre aims to create sustainable new jobs for Gippslanders

The recently completed feasibility study into establishing a Regional Carbon Innovation Centre (RCIC) in the Latrobe Valley has found that it could deliver a number of compelling economic, social and environmental benefits to the region.

A collaboration between Australian Carbon Innovation (ACI)* and Federation University’s Carbon Technology Research Centre (CTRC), the proposed RCIC is designed to take new carbon-related products and technologies developed in the lab and turn them into commercial opportunities.

Funded jointly by ACI and Federation University and supported by $100k in funding from Regional Development Victoria after being considered in the highest priority project category following a Regional Partnerships forum in Wonthaggi, the feasibility study has found that the Centre could bring over 1,000 jobs to the Latrobe Valley in next-generation industries and associated services.

By helping to lower the costs associated with demonstrating this research at commercial scale, the RCIC would play a pivotal role in commercialising high-value carbon-related products and technologies in the Latrobe Valley to supply markets both domestically and overseas.

The RCIC is particularly relevant for the Latrobe Valley, as the region has significant carbon resources stored not just in its coal but within the paper industry and forests.

The region also possesses the skilled workforce, higher learning capabilities and technology centres to support the Centre in these activities.

By retraining workers in the region’s declining energy industry and its supporting industries, the Centre has the potential to enable a transition towards a low-emissions economy, using the Latrobe Valley’s existing natural resources to drive significant economic growth.

It comes at a critical time for Gippsland, with the closure of power plants, loss of small-to-medium enterprises, challenges within the fibre industry and an ageing population likely to impact the local economy and employment.

The Centre would continue to help facilitate research currently being undertaken by Federation and ACI in the region, covering areas such as agricultural products, advanced carbon materials, high value chemicals, alternative fuels including hydrogen, and technologies for carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

The proposal builds on decades of partnerships, technology and science driven by ACI and Federation, and which have been developing locally, nationally and internationally.

The Centre has strong support from Regional Development Australia, Regional Partnerships, Latrobe City Council, and more than 17 separate local and international industry organisations.

Facilities like the RCIC exist in a number of regions across the globe, with government support playing a key role in their success.

It is estimated that a total government investment of $25-30m will be required to successfully establish the Centre.

* Formerly Brown Coal Innovation Australia.