ON the face of it, the Energy Renaissance battery facility has the potential to play a major role in the Hunter's industrial future as the country - and the rest of the world - wrestles with the climate-driven transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
The huge improvements in battery technology in the past decade have enabled portability for all manner of electrical goods that were one chained to a power cord.
But even bigger breakthroughs in scale and affordability will be needed if renewable power sources - principally solar and wind in this country - are to substantially, let alone fully, replace coal-fired power generation on the grid, and if electric cars are to become the norm on our roads.
As a company, it's fair to say that Energy Renaissance was relatively unknown - outside of its own specialist field - until September last year, when news emerged that the Hunter and the Illawarra were being canvassed for a factory site.
Energy Renaissance says the Tomago factory will employ 1700 people at full scale - which would make it a much bigger employer than the nearby Tomago Aluminium smelter.
Time will tell, but in the meantime it seems the factory will be producing technology licensed from US battery company Cadenza Innovation, based on a licensing agreement between the two announced in February 2019.
Even if the traffic is all one way, we need to remember that this epoch-shaping transition out of coal will not be instantaneous.
It will take time, and while the greenhouse gas emissions of coal are massive and need to be taken into account, they are only one side of a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to decisions such as Mount Pleasant's substantial expansion application.
We should not over-estimate the ability of batteries - at this early stage of their development - to solve the renewable energy storage problem.
And we should not demonise coal by ignoring its still invaluable contribution to our way of life and our national wealth.
It is too simplistic to say that renewables are "good" and coal is "bad". There are no free lunches, not even from sun and wind.
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