If you didn't know it already, there's no better place to be than the Hunter after Energy Minister Matt Kean announced plans to turn NSW into a renewable energy superpower.
The NSW Government's Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap plans to fast track 12GW of renewable energy and 2GW of storage and transmission by 2030, creating more than 9000 jobs and attracting $32 billion of private investment in the process.
The Hunter is perfectly positioned to benefit. By boosting the amount of renewable energy generated in NSW, this roadmap will transform the Hunter and catapult us into the future as a global clean energy advanced manufacturing hub.
As Beyond Zero Emissions' Million Jobs Plan shows, many more downstream jobs are created when electricity systems are powered by abundant, affordable renewable energy.
This means that on top of the 9000 renewable energy zone construction and operational jobs announced, there will be thousands of manufacturing jobs for the Hunter.
The NSW Industry Opportunity Report was also launched and highlights the huge economic opportunities for the state in green hydrogen, green ammonia, green aluminium and green steel - industries that the Hunter already has strong foundations for.
For example, Orica supplies the mining industry with explosives, and is already producing hydrogen on Kooragang Island and the University of Newcastle is undertaking groundbreaking renewable hydrogen research.
With the Hunter's long history in mining, we have world-class expertise in managing volatile gases and these are applicable to developing the use of renewable hydrogen technology.
As for green metals, we already have an aluminium smelter and, in a sign of changing industry attitudes, Tomago Aluminium has welcomed the NSW government announcement; and we have steel capability with local steel manufacturers committed to clean energy to reduce their supply chain emissions, for example, Molycop is powered by 50 per cent renewable energy.
The Hunter is the obvious choice for investors seeking to build these next generation zero carbon industries and the government's roadmap provides certainty to private investment through a long-term energy target for NSW.
The Hunter is the obvious choice for investors seeking to build these next generation zero carbon industries.
We can now expect billions of private investment to come to NSW and for these industries to kickstart within a decade.
Manufacturing in the Hunter is also set to benefit from the government's commitment to procure locally in the construction of these renewable energy zones, as seen in a Manufacturing Renewables Taskforce backing local suppliers and local supply chains to support local jobs.
These Renewable Energy Zones will need 650,000 tonnes of steel: which is great news for the Hunter's existing steel industry.
These Renewable Energy Zones also create demand for wind turbines: and the wind industry has already arrived in the Hunter with innovator Diffuse Energy's microgrid turbine.
Finally, these Renewable Energy Zones are crucial for Hunter's electrified manufacturing industry: another win for Hunter-based manufacturers such as Molycop and emerging innovators such as MGA Thermal and Energy Renaissance.
In short, the roadmap is a plan to supply 12GW of clean power with the Hunter becoming home to new manufacturing and minerals processing industries that capitalise on that clean power.
After all, we have all the right ingredients: a highly skilled workforce trained to deliver to the exacting high quality standards of the mining industry, expertise in metals and producing hydrogen, knowledge and innovation from the University of Newcastle and the CSIRO and a deep water port to take our products to the world.
The time is now.
As we point out in our vision for the Hunter in the Million Jobs Plan, with gigawatts of clean energy on tap we can make green hydrogen and green metals pillars of our economy, and secure the Hunter's place as "the electric motor of the Australian economy".
Samantha Mella is the Hunter Engagement Lead at Beyond Zero Emissions
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