The NSW government will spend $70 million to support the development of a new hydrogen hub in the Hunter, as the government braces for an accelerating exist of the state’s coal generators, many of which are clustered within the region.
NSW energy minister Matt Kean said the state government would commit $70 million through the government’s recently announced $750 million Zero Industry and Innovation Program,
The development of a hydrogen hub in the Hunter region would allow access to existing ports and exports infrastructure, as well as access to sustainable supplies of water and electricity.
“This is a win-win for our state, by investing in hydrogen hubs we will kick-start jobs and infrastructure opportunities in NSW while simultaneously contributing to our Net Zero by 2050 goal,” Kean said.
“The Hunter Hydrogen Hub will drive new low carbon jobs and help to set up the region for the future.”
Kean said that the state would be looking to tap into a substantial future market for green hydrogen, expected to be driven by a global shift to zero emissions manufacturing.
The purpose of the hubs, according to Kean, will be to cluster together a number of hydrogen producers and users into dedicated hubs, allowing infrastructure to be coordinated and shared, and for costs to be reduced.
“By 2050, green hydrogen has the potential to drive $350 billion in investment across Australia in current dollars and up to $26 billion per year in additional GDP, supporting the emergence of new decarbonised industries such as green steel and ammonia,” Kean said.
NSW parliamentary secretary for the Hunter, Taylor Martin, said the creation of a hydrogen hub in the Hunter region would also provide key opportunities in emerging green industries, helping to support a region traditionally dependent on fossil fuel industries.
“The Hunter is already an energy powerhouse and a hydrogen industry will mean new jobs and investment in the region as well as creating new markets for export,” Martin said.
There has been growing speculation that a number of coal power stations are heading to early exits from the electricity market – a fear brought into reality by this week’s announcement from EnergyAustralia that it will close the Yallourn power station in Victoria four years earlier than initially expected.
The announcement of a Hunter region hydrogen hub follows similar commitments to establish a sustainable manufacturing hub in the Illawarra region.
The NSW commitment to establishing a hydrogen hub in the Hunter regions comes as both the federal and Queensland governments take steps to learn from industry about the future needs of the emerging hydrogen industry.
On Thursday, the Queensland government appointed its first Hydrogen Taskforce, led by the University of Queensland’s chair in sustainable energy futures, Professor Peta Ashworth, which brings 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, and Queensland is lucky to have Professor Peta Ashworth at the helm,” Queensland energy and hydrogen minister Mick de Brenni said.
On Friday, consultancy Arup announced that it had been selected by the federal government to undertake the first National Hydrogen Infrastructure Assessment, as has been recommended under the National Hydrogen Strategy adopted by federal and state energy ministers, and will likewise 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 hydrogen market lead for Australasia, Patrick Gorr, said.
“Our role is to help identify the best opportunities for investment.”