Hunter has enough new energy potential to power Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct

April 8, 2022

The Hunter has more than enough renewable energy potential to decarbonise existing industry giants and develop new green industries

  • Hunter has opportunity to develop new green industries & decarbonise giants
  • $6 billion federal government funding for REIPs could attract $38b private investment
  • Hunter REIP could attract $28b in investment, support 34,000 new jobs and earn $11b annually by 2032

The Hunter has more than enough renewable energy potential to power a Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct (REIP), enough for existing industry giants to realise their decarbonisation commitments and enough to develop emerging green industries, according to a new briefing paper by green energy think tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

A Hunter REIP could attract $28 billion in investment, support 34,000 new jobs and earn $11 billion annually by 2032, according to ACIL-Allen modelling commissioned by BZE and WWF-Australia last year.

The complete decarbonisation of all existing industries in the Hunter (including Tomago Aluminium and Orica, as well as new green steel plants) requires approximately 22 GW of renewable generation, which is comfortably covered by the 29 GW in generation potential of the Hunter and neighbouring Renewable Energy Zones and offshore wind, with 17.8 GW of projects already announced. Transmission capacity is needed to connect the renewable energy to the industrial precinct, which will require an investment of $8.5 billion. An investment of $3.7 billion in energy storage is also required, however there is investment interest in this scale of projects already announced in the Hunter, although they need the right government support to lock in these commitments.

BZE’s Export Powerhouse report last year showed that Australia could grow a new green export market worth $333 billion a year by 2050 – almost triple the value of our current fossil fuel exports – with the right government support.

Federal government investment now will create certainty for investors, unlock private sector investment, boost innovation and create new jobs. To kickstart seven REIPs across the country including the Hunter, the federal government needs to fund $6.3 billion in projects over the next 10 years, which would attract $37.8 billion in private investment with the additional support of state governments and public sector financing from institutions such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, according to analysis by BZE and WWF-Australia.

“Australian manufacturing is being revitalised thanks to renewable energy, attracting new investment, protecting jobs now, and creating thousands of new jobs for the future,” said BZE’s Hunter Project Manager Sam Mella. “Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts are the smart way to take advantage of this boom, revitalising our industrial heartlands with low-cost renewable energy to make the goods the new economy demands.

“The Hunter has long been an energy and export powerhouse, and a Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct will continue that proud tradition long into the future, producing green steel and aluminium, green hydrogen, ammonia and chemicals, and batteries.

“Business alone cannot be expected to build and coordinate the infrastructure needed for a REIP, especially with so many businesses entering the green export industry. Governments helped build our rail, road, energy and telecommunications infrastructure and now we need to ramp up our renewable energy capacity and develop REIPs.

“Building REIPs will be a big nation building project, larger than the Snowy Mountains scheme but with much greater returns. It is building the energy infrastructure that will power our industries into the future, and future-proof manufacturing. Never has the role of government been so critical. A REIP needs funding and planning and collaboration between industry and government.

“There are trillions of investment dollars leaving the fossil fuel industry and looking for a new home in renewables and they want the highest return on investment. Investors will go to the countries that build the infrastructure that maximises economies of scale, efficiencies and synergies and coordination to maximise revenue.”

Hunter businesses and institutions have been very supportive of REIP for the region, with more than 40 statements of support from businesses, industry bodies, local governments and research institutions  provided to BZE.

Alice Thompson, the Chief Executive of the Committee for the Hunter, said:It’s time to move the conversation forward from the opportunity of clean energy jobs to the plan and secure the partnerships and the resources to get there. BZE’s Hunter REIP offers a strategic place-based vehicle to do just this, tackling the fundamental challenge of how to decarbonise heavy industries, manufacturing to protect jobs and keep them competitive in the new energy economy.”

Rod Henderson, the Chief Executive of Newcastle-based battery maker Ampcontrol, said: “Ampcontrol is at the forefront of developing and supplying advanced technology, products and services to the resources, infrastructure, and energy sectors that enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment. We strongly support a REIP here to position the Hunter Region as an energy manufacturing and transition powerhouse.”

Ivan Waterfield, the Chief Executive of manufacturers network HunterNet said: “The Hunter is an industrial and energy powerhouse, the engine room for NSW and a large contributor nationally. The REIP will support the Hunter to become the most attractive energy-intensive destination for manufacturing. Adding value to materials and manufacturing locally will maximise the opportunities in the exported energy sector, embodied within manufactured products and better ensuring long-term employment growth and developing new industry.”
The Hunter REIP briefing paper can be downloaded from

Hunter green industry developments

The Hunter has more than enough new renewable energy sources to power a Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct, enough for existing industry giants to realise their decarbonisation commitments and enough to develop emerging green industries. Hunter businesses are already pursuing green steel and aluminium, green hydrogen and batteries, cleantech manufacturing and software.

  • Anchor industry Tomago Aluminium plans to run on 100% renewables by 2029, and chemical manufacturer Orica, which operates from Kooragang Island, has announced a 40% cut to emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050. Molycop has one of Australia’s biggest renewable energy power purchase agreements to significantly reduce the emissions from its steel products.
  • Macquarie Bank is partnering with the Port of Newcastle and Japanese energy company Idemitsu to develop a green hydrogen hub at the port. Idemitsu is partnering with renewables adviser Energy Estate to develop green hydrogen assets in its old Muswellbrook Coal mine. AGL plans to repurpose its Liddell power station site to become the Hunter Energy Hub with Fortescue Future Industries and renewable companies RayGen and Epuron.
  • Lithium-ion battery maker Energy Renaissance is building a factory in Tomago. Ampcontrol, BME and 3ME Technology are creating and building the next generation of mining and defence electric vehicles (EVs).
  • The Hunter is fast becoming a centre of groundbreaking cleantech manufacturing and innovation, including Allegro Energy’s redox flow batteries and supercapacitors, Diffuse Energy’s high-powered wind turbines, Kardinia Energy’s printed solar film, MGA Thermal bricks, Saphi Engineering and SwitchDin software.

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