NSW hydrogen hubs draw eight times more interest than expected


The outpouring of interest in the state’s first two proposed hydrogen hubs, one in the northern Hunter region near Newcastle and the second in the south near Wollongong, have well and truly exceeded expectation. 

On Monday, NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean said the “overwhelming” response to its calls for expressions of interest included private sector plans to develop up to 5,900MW of electrolyser capacity, more than eight times the 700MW target.

This equates to more than $4 billion of investment potential.

The NSW government has committed $70 million to accelerate the development of hydrogen hubs, starting with the Hunter and Illawarra, though it is worth noting that its approach relies not so much on direct subsidies for hydrogen projects but rather on creating an ideal environment for business.

The Bayswater power station will now close no later than” 2033.
The Hunter Valley has long been a hub for fossil fuel power stations, such as AGL’s Bayswater coal station (pictured). The government is hoping to replace its industries with green hydrogen.

Image: AGL

This approach can be seen through the state’s hydrogen strategy released last October. In it, Kean and his government focus on bolstering business and providing up to $3 billion in support for the hydrogen industry by waiving government charges for green hydrogen production and creating a favourable regulatory system.

“The market has spoken. This is an overwhelming level of commercial interest and it shows our policies are sending the right signals to energy investors, making NSW the go to state for energy investment,” Kean said of the hydrogen hub news.

It comes off the back of more than $100 billion in investment interest in the state’s Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), representing almost 40GW of project potential – which again exceeded expectations.

Matt Kean, NSW Minister for Energy and Environment.

Image: pv magazine

While the renewable investment opportunity in Australia overall remains somewhat marred by the Morrison government’s continued support for and subsidisation of fossil fuels industries, NSW, it seems, has managed to capture confidence.

Specifically, 21 individual projects have been proposed for the two hydrogen hubs, enough to produce almost 268,000 tonnes of green hydrogen each year.

“Hydrogen Hubs will provide huge economic benefits for the Hunter and Illawarra, helping to secure jobs of the future,” acting NSW Premier Paul Toole said.

“It also represents a huge export potential for our state, with the international market for green hydrogen expected to meet 24% of the global energy demand by 2050, estimated to be worth $900 billion.”

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