"The Hunter region deserves a better strategy than just hoping that demand for coal will continue Indefinitely," Tony Wood, Grattan Institute
Regions such as the Hunter had an historic opportunity to become part of a multi-billion dollar export-focused manufacturing sector based on their access to renewable energy, a Grattan Institute report has found.
The Start with steel: A practical plan to support carbon workers and cut emissions report also highlights the key role of government policy in the creation of a new manufacturing industry based around clean energy.
The biggest opportunity for the Hunter was in low-emissions 'green steel', which is made by using renewable energy to extract hydrogen from water and then using the hydrogen to replace coal in the steel-making process.
"The Hunter has access to the high quality renewable energy needed to make hydrogen cost effectively. It is the hub of the NSW power grid, and can draw a mix of solar and wind energy from the north, south and west of the state," report author Tony Wood said.
"The Hunter also has the other key ingredients needed to make and ship green steel to Asia. It has the Newcastle port and, crucially, a large workforce capable of building a new export industry."
The report estimates that capturing 6.5 per cent of the global steel market would generate about $65 billion in annual export revenue and could create 25,000 manufacturing jobs in NSW and Queensland.
In addition to environmental benefits, the emergence of a green steel industry would provide opportunities for coal industry workers to proactively transition to clean energy jobs.
OR Go straight to the Start with Steel report here