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$207.6m hydrogen hub given green light in Hunter

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A $207.6 million hydrogen hub will proceed in the Hunter Valley after receiving the green light from the NSW Government.

Despite 109 issues being raised by submissions, highlighting water quality and hydrology, hazard and risk, and traffic and transport, 55% of respondents favoured the State Significant Development at Kooragang Island and registered their key interests.

And, the government gave its planning approval this week.

The decision is a major step for Newcastle’s, and NSW’s, renewables sector.

Construction of the hydrogen hub, to be led by Origin Future Fuels, looks likely to start in mid-2025.

It will initially deliver approximately 55 megawatts of electrolyser capacity by 2026, with an aim to scale up to more than 1 gigawatt of capacity over the next decade.

The development’s expected to support the hydrogen industry in NSW by establishing a commercial-scale green hydrogen supply chain and a hydrogen refuelling network for the region and state.

It will be used by industry, with the majority going to Orica’s nearby ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility to help decarbonise its operations with green hydrogen and made available to transport customers through onsite and satellite refuelling stations.

It’s understood the project will create 160 construction jobs with 10 ongoing roles.

“The Minns government is committed to seeing viable renewable ventures move through the planning system efficiently to make sure we are working towards our goal of net zero by 2050,” Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said.

“The Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub will save the equivalent of more than 52,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year from Orica’s facility.

“Without a supportive or efficient planning system in NSW, we’re not going to have the investment we need to decarbonise our industries and support job growth in our regions.”

Newcastle federal MP Sharon Claydon said green hydrogen would play a critical role in Australia’s transformation to net zero.

“I am pleased to see this important project progressing, following the $70 million investment from the commonwealth government,” she added.

“We’re committed to supporting carbon intensive regions like ours to take advantage of the economic and job opportunities that come with more affordable and reliable renewable energy.”

Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley agreed.

“NSW has the potential to be a leading producer of green hydrogen and so does the Hunter as the country’s largest regional economy,” she said.

“The hub offers us an opportunity to bring back work lost when the former government shipped manufacturing jobs offshore.

“Its approval follows this week’s announcement of the Future Jobs and Investment Authority.

“It is a clear sign that the NSW Government is investing in the future of the Hunter, shoring up our energy grid and unleashing the Hunter’s potential to once again be a manufacturing powerhouse.

“Workers expect us to be making investments to unlock new industry in the Hunter and ensure our region has stable, good paying jobs well into the future.    

“The announcement demonstrates the NSW Government is ambitious about our community moving forward.”

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