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Renewable Energy Zone a case of ‘back to the future’: Mella

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More than $100 billion of potential investment has been put forward in the registration of interest for the massive Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

And, the projects could deliver in excess of 100,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy a year – equivalent to the annual output of about 10 coal-fired power stations, according to climate change think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions, who praised the initiative.

“Our modelling shows the Hunter-Central Coast REZ would generate $11 billion annually in revenue by 2032, create 34,000 new jobs and attract $28 billion in capital,” Hunter project manager Sam Mella said.

“The incredible interest in the industrial precinct may make our modelling look conservative now.

“However, it will build on the region’s existing mining, energy and manufacturing expertise, supporting local powerhouses such as Tomago and Orica to a sustainable future while growing future-focused industries such as green steel and aluminium, green hydrogen and chemicals and battery manufacture.

“The Hunter-Central Coast REZ is a great start, but we also need to fast track the development of the New England and Central West Renewable Energy Zones, too.

“The state and federal governments need to work together to support the building of the transmission infrastructure to connect the renewable energy production to industry.”

Commercial interest has been registered in 24 solar energy, 13 onshore and seven offshore wind energy, 35 large-scale batteries and eight pumped hydro projects.

“The response shows investors see the Hunter and Central Coast as some of the best investment destinations anywhere in the country,” NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said.

“That will translate into jobs and prosperity for the region.

“Renewable Energy Zones are vital to ensuring the future reliability and affordability of electricity in NSW as traditional coal-fired power stations close down over the coming decades.”

Ms Mella agreed with Mr Kean.

“This region has a great future if we continue to build on its industrial strengths,” she said.

“It really is a case of back to the future here.

“Newcastle was built on energy and steel – and we also have a world-leading university and excellent research capability.

“The City has the infrastructure, the port, the grid to plug in renewables, and a highly-trained workforce.

“We can become a major steelmaker again, making it with renewable energy and meeting the increasing international demand for low emission products.”

Ms Mella named Molycop, as an example, for leading the way.

“They’re making steel products with 75% less carbon intensity while Infrabuild has its GREENSTEEL plan,” she said.

“And, we can produce so much more.

“Homegrown heroes Ampcontrol, BME and 3ME Technology are creating and building the next generation of mining and defence electric vehicles.

“MGA Thermal and Allegro Energy have ground-breaking storage solutions.

“Local industry networks such as Hunternet support this collaboration culture, bringing together manufacturers and suppliers to enhance the Hunter’s competitive edge.

“The region is in a great position to thrive.”

It is expected the Hunter-Central Coast REZ will be formally declared under the NSW Government’s Electricity Roadmap legislation by mid-2022.

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