'Carbon capital' plots transition road map

The engine room of Queensland's economy has released a plan that aims to give the community a future beyond fossil fuels.

Gladstone, Australia's "carbon capital", knows it is vulnerable as the nation and key trading partners look to transform heavy industries and economies to cut carbon emissions.

Gladstone Regional Council on Tuesday launched a detailed 10-year road map for change that it says builds on its proud industrial heritage.

One of the world's largest plants for making hydrogen equipment is already in the works for Gladstone as billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest places his biggest bet yet.

"I share the dream of that billionaire," Mayor Matt Burnett said.

"It's more than just electrolysers. He wants to manufacture all the renewable infrastructure right here in Gladstone and then export it to the world."

Positioned alongside the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Gladstone's skyline is dominated by coal and gas ports and smoke stacks from alumina and chemical refineries.

Gladstone is also home to Queensland's biggest coal-fired power plant and Australia's busiest multi-commodity port, which takes 125 million tonnes a year from mines and farms.

The port handles a quarter of the world's liquefied natural gas (LNG) and 40 per cent of Australia's coal, with coal exports rebounding as the world tries to replace Russian goods.

More than a dozen hydrogen projects are under way, as well as two bio-refineries and start-ups developing batteries and renewable energy components.

The council started work several years ago, before people wanted to talk about energy transition to renewable sources.

"We've got to be leaders ... or we get left behind," Mr Burnett said.

"We could just wait and let other levels of government determine our future, let industry determine whether they're going to invest, but we don't want to wait."

Amanda Cahill, CEO of The Next Economy, which has been consulting with locals, said no one wanted another boom-bust cycle.

"It's a different task. This is about building manufacturing off renewable energy - it's not just renewable energy, it's what you do with it," Dr Cahill told AAP.

Deputy Mayor Kahn Goodluck said the new Alpha HPA plant across the road from the Orica chemicals refinery was a "prime example" of a low-carbon company and new success story in manufacturing.

"This is what the transition plan is all about," he said.

Practical changes are also coming to the town. The first of thousands of wind turbine parts will force roundabouts on key port exit roads to be cut through because the trucks carrying the massive blades need a straight route.

"You can't get an 80-metre blade around a roundabout," Mr Goodluck said.

Gladstone port boss Craig Haymes said it is not going to happen overnight.

"We're going to need coal and gas for quite some time," he said.

But fossil fuel industry workers will get support to be redeployed to other energy operations, retrain for new careers, or retire early.

"This is such a big transition we have to make sure no one is left behind," CQUniversity hydrogen and alternative energy professor Murray Shearer said.

As part a Queensland-wide plan, workers at state-owned coal-fired power stations already have a "job security guarantee" of a public-sector job in energy or other roles.

Gladstone's new plan needs a bigger and more diverse workforce, with more apprenticeships and traineeships for women, First Nations, young people and older workers.

New jobs in agriculture, health, advanced manufacturing, tourism and waste projects are also in the offing.

"This is a practical, technical, economic issue to solve," Dr Cahill said.

"It's Gladstone, but it's also Newcastle, Latrobe Valley, Geelong and Spencer Gulf ... on the front lines of this change that's already here."

The reporter travelled to Gladstone as a guest of Gladstone Regional Council and The Next Economy.