Newcastle Herald, 19 April 2021
A Hunter manufacturing renaissance based around clean energy technology will be the focus of next month’s Hunter Innovation Festival.
In addition to creating new jobs, think tank Beyond Zero Emissions will host a panel that will discuss the activation of a Hunter Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct.
Panel members include Alice Thompson (Committee for the Hunter), Boris Novak (HunterNet), Dr Andrew Mears (SwitchDin), Warrick Jordan (Hunter Jobs Alliance) and Dr Jessica Allen (University of Newcastle).
Beyond Zero Emissions is collecting expressions of interest from Australian companies that are keen to participate in the Hunter’s Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct.
The precinct would connect to renewable energy generation through high voltage transmission lines with access to clean heat and renewable hydrogen production and infrastructure.
It would provide benefits to energy-intensive businesses such as aluminium smelting, hydrogen production, green steel manufacture, chemicals production and recycling.
It would also provide a home for manufacturers of clean technologies such as wind turbines, batteries, electric vehicle chargers, electric buses and mining equipment.
Companies including Molycop, Ampcontrol and MGA Thermal have already given support for the project.
Beyond Zero Emissions chief executive officer Heidi Lee said the Hunter had an opportunity to meet growing global demand for zero-emissions products as countries and companies commit to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.
“Establishing Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts help our region’s manufacturers seize that competitive advantage the state’s abundance of renewable energy offers. They also benefit companies who rely on low-emissions supply chains for their business,” she said.
“But with countries around the world eyeing the same prize, there’s no time to lose.”
A 2020 Beyond Zero Emissions analysis estimated about 50,000 sustainable jobs could be created in the Hunter Region over the next five years as a result of a rapid expansion of renewable energy-based projects and zero-emissions industries.
The Million Jobs Plan argues the shift to a clean electricity grid is inevitable and a unique opportunity exists to accelerate it as part of the post-COVID-19 recovery.
Manufacturing zero emission buses, retrofitting homes and businesses with renewable technologies, creating new markets for coal ash resources, land rehabilitation projects and the manufacture of green steel are among the growth opportunities that exist in the Hunter, according to the report.