BlueScope invests in NSW’s future with $20 million Renewable Manufacturing Zone

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Industry is already hustling to jump in with the New South Wales (NSW) Government after the release of its ‘NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap’ earlier this month. Indeed, steel giant BlueScope has announced that it will invest $20 million in a new BlueScope Renewable Manufacturing Zone (BRMZ) at Port Kembla in the Illawarra. 

The Berejiklian Government’s plan to cover the raft of coal-fired generator retirements through the construction of 12 GW of new large-scale solar and wind, along with 2 GW of pumped hydro by 2030, is thus already attracting private support. 

BlueScope says its BRMZ will underpin the state government’s renewable infrastructure roadmap via its “20-year plan for the local manufacture of dispatchable/firmed renewable energy and electricity transmission infrastructure to replace coal-fired energy.” This kind of investment falls right in line with the state’s vision of an expanded steel and aluminium manufacturing industry that is globally competitive with desirable green products. 

Moreover, the announcement bolsters the NSW Government’s recently established Manufacturing Renewables Taskforce, an effort to find ways to drive the usage of NSW materials in the construction of the state’s Renewable Energy Zones (REZs). 

BlueScope’s, Managing Director & CEO, Mark Vassella said that the investment will be split in two, with half of it going into an incentive program for companies who want to help develop manufacturing capacity in the Illawarra, especially in renewables. And the other half to be invested directly into BlueScope’s steelworks as it looks to become a manufacturer of materials for renewables.

“We will invest directly in our own plant,” said Vassella, “but also partner with innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new technology solutions in key industries like renewables, infrastructure, defence, manufacturing and sustainable buildings.”

That the Illawarra can become a renewable manufacturing hub is a prospect given recent confidence by the NSW Government’s proposed new local content procurement policy to spur innovation, and BlueScope shares in the optimism for the region. 

Indeed, the region is already a fertile renewable innovator as the native home of solar startup SunDrive, not to mention the University of Wollongong which is a proven home to solar and sustainability innovators. 

“An immediate focus will be supporting the manufacture of wind tower, solar farm, pumped hydro, electricity transmission facilities,” continued Vassella. “There is large and growing demand for all these equipment types which, in NSW, are currently imported as pre-fabricated finished goods.”

According to NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, NSW currently imports more than 86,500 tonnes of steel that forms the foundation of critical infrastructure, and the REZs will need more than 650,000 tonnes of steel for construction. 

“My priority,” said NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean, “is finding ways to make sure that the steel and other products that power NSW, are made in NSW by NSW manufacturers.”

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