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Reaction to $1bn Solar Sunshot Program investment at Liddell

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The Hunter is set to become a hub for renewable energy manufacturing after the federal government announced a $1 billion investment in its green future. 

A report released earlier this week by the Climate Council provides a roadmap to cut emissions by 75% by 2030 and includes recommendations to invest in clean technologies to stimulate economic growth in regions previously dependent on coal, oil and gas – the Hunter region. 

The announcement was made at the site of the decommissioned Liddell Power station.

The Liddell Power Station, located between Muswellbrook and Singleton.

Several prominent Hunter business and energy representatives immediately voiced their concerns.

“The Hunter region has been ready to help Australia make this energy shift. It’s important to note that the new industry will be positioned in an optimum point in the energy network and able to draw on green electrons produced at Liddell and brought in from the Central West REZ,” says Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes. 

“This is going to be a major step in helping the economy achieve net zero whilst ramping up industrial output in a new industry.  

“We know there are opportunities for workers and local businesses, so we welcome this investment announcement from governments today.” 

Hawes
Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes offers his thoughts on the Solar Sunshot Program

Lake Macquarie businessman and member of Hunter Renewal Peter Coughlan says while the $1billion investment is welcome, it must come with other means of support. 

“I’m very supportive of the $1billion Solar Sunshot investment. It is a great example of a wider renewable energy-based manufacturing sector that could be housed in the Hunter.  

“What we need in addition to this direct investment is support for the overarching transition challenge facing the Hunter.  

“There is an urgent need for a properly funded Hunter Transition Authority, in conjunction with the establishment of the Hunter TAFE Centre of Excellence, to upskill our workers. 

“So while applauding this announcement I call on both the state and federal governments to work collaboratively and with urgency towards the longer-term needs of the entire Hunter community.” 

Justin page, Coordinator Hunter Jobs Alliance says job creation and sustainability must also feature in future planning.

“We have started to see decent investment in the Hunter region for renewable energy builds, like the renewable energy infrastructure on the site of the old Liddell power station, and in the areas of wind farms and hydrogen fuel production – however, for long-term job creation, we need investment in manufacturing, rather than just installation.

“This investment by the Albanese government is welcome news in the Hunter region, as we have a proud history of manufacturing and proven industry building capabilities.

“Strategic investment in a future proof manufacturing industry is exactly what the Hunter and Australia needs, and this large commitment at the federal level will bolster our ability to create jobs for the long term in the Hunter region.”

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