A new economic analysis has found a Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct in the Hunter could add $28 billion to the economy and 33,958 ongoing jobs by 2032.
The analysis by economics firm ACIL Allen, and commissioned by Beyond Zero Emissions and WWF-Australia, shows that renewable energy is the shot in the arm the Hunter economy needs.
Hunter businesses know the global market is changing. They understand the need to shift to zero-emissions manufacturing, and what the opportunity is. It's why BHP, Vale and Rio have all asked for innovation in electrification of mining vehicles, and Hunter companies such as 3ME, BME and Ampcontrol have already developed and tested electric mine vehicle prototypes with superior performance.
Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts are clusters of manufacturers powered by 100 per cent renewable energy that is globally competitive in price. It is what the global market wants: in fact, 70 per cent of the global market has now committed to net zero-emissions and that will include taking emissions out of supply chains.
IN THE NEWS:
Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts are more ambitious than the Clean Manufacturing Precincts planned by the NSW Government.
While our understanding is that the Clean Manufacturing Precincts aim for a 30 per cent emission reduction by 2030, Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts will be emissions-free within 10 years. The precincts will attract $7.8 billion of capital investment and fast-track infrastructure for the Hunter.
The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) - essentially a carbon border tax - is under consideration by the European Union with a similar proposal being looked at in the US. It is only a matter of time before other nations do too.
In Australia, with or without a domestic carbon price, the global market will impose one on our products. This comes as Australian producers and manufacturers feel the pressure from Chinese trade barriers and COVID-19. Carbon tariffs threaten to make Australian products undesirable and uncompetitive - that is unless we switch to low-emissions production.
Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts enable manufacturers to take emissions out of energy-intensive products and turn the challenge posed by CBAM into an opportunity. The precincts will be powered by the gigawatt-scale solar and wind resources located in the Orana and New England Renewable Energy Zones, giving Australian products a competitive edge.
The Hunter Renewable Energy Zone is also in the pipeline. Many such exciting projects are being proposed by developers and investors who see the zero-carbon potential of the Hunter. There are hydrogen projects, pumped hydro projects in mining voids, battery projects and offshore wind projects. Combined, these projects can support firming to ensure that Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts have zero-carbon electricity around the clock.
The ACIL Allen economic analysis shows how Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts can build on what the Hunter already does well and create a strong economic future with new industries, more jobs, and more dollars flowing to the regions in capital investment and new revenue. There is so much potential.
By processing our iron ore, our lithium, our bauxite and alumina, our critical minerals onshore using Australian renewable energy, we can produce emissions-free steel and aluminium, batteries and other cleantech products the world needs in a zero-carbon supply chain. By playing to our core capabilities, a Hunter Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct will focus on mining, mineral processing, energy and manufacturing.
By playing to our core capabilities, a Hunter Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct will focus on mining, mineral processing, energy and manufacturing.
It's not going to happen on its own. A nationwide program to re-industrialise our regions and power them with our globally competitive renewable energy must be a national economic priority. And the Hunter needs to be one of the first sites that are developed. A secure policy framework and foundation funding for shared infrastructure must be put into place to create a safe environment for investors.
The Hunter has contributed enormously to Australia's economic prosperity including fostering powerful and trusted trade partners and tens of billions of dollars in royalties. Now that the global market is shifting and policies like CBAM are on the horizon, the businesses and workers of the Hunter are exposed. But with the right policy and financial support to enable a Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct, the Hunter can remain a major global energy hub that exports essential emissions-free products and services to the world.
Sam Mella is the Beyond Zero Emissions Hunter diversification lead
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: