The Hunter's newly-established green hydrogen hub would help Australian industry realise the potential of the country's clean energy resources, Australia's climate council believes.
The $70 million hub, one of two in NSW, was announced by NSW energy minister Matt Kean last week. It will provide groups of hydrogen users common infrastructure for the local production, use and distribution of hydrogen.
"NSW is showing it's serious about tackling climate change and protecting Australians, and in doing so, is 'cashing in' on Australia's renewable energy and clean industry potential," Climate Council spokesperson and former President of BP Australasia, Greg Bourne, said.
"Only green hydrogen, produced from renewable energy can play a role in our net zero emissions future. As one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, why would we invest in any other type of hydrogen?"
Mr Bourne said the Hunter's strong network of energy infrastructure and skilled workers put it in an enviable position to seize the economic opportunities of renewable hydrogen.
"With the right training and support, workers can transition smoothly from coal jobs to jobs in the clean hydrogen industry. As the world gets serious about climate change, this region can become the zero carbon export capital of not just Australia, but the world," he said.
The Hunter is one of several rapidly emerging hydrogen hot spots across Australia.
The Queensland government last week appointed a Hydrogen Taskforce to bring together representatives from industry and key government leaders to assess the needs of the hydrogen industry and provide the state government advice on supply chain gaps and opportunities.
"The Hydrogen Taskforce brings together industry, academic and public sector leaders with expertise in science, energy, international investment attraction and economic development, infrastructure planning, regulations, skills development and logistics," Queensland energy and hydrogen minister Mick de Brenni said.
Consultancy Arup also announced last week that it has been selected by the federal government to undertake the first national hydrogen infrastructure assessment.
The project will facilitate consultation with industry to identify gaps and emerging opportunities in the hydrogen supply chain in Australia.
"Australia has already been identified as having a competitive advantage in the race to develop a hydrogen economy but it will need significant and targeted supply chain investment to realise this advantage; Australia has to be smart with how it invests," Arup's Patrick Gorr, said.