(Australian Associated Press)
Prominent mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest says green energy will one day dwarf the size of the iron ore and coal industries and he is demanding “short-termists” stop betraying the trust of voters.
Up to $3 billion in government incentives for “green hydrogen” energy projects will be on offer as part of NSW’s new hydrogen strategy, unveiled on Wednesday.
The state will also exempt green hydrogen production from government charges, significantly discount electricity network charges, and roll out a hydrogen refuelling network.
Green hydrogen power involves the use of renewable energy sources to split water molecules and extract energy which can be used for household power, vehicles and industry.
The NSW government hopes to attract more than $80 billion in private investment to the sector.
Mr Forrest, appearing alongside Premier Dominic Perrottet and Treasurer Matt Kean, said he intends to co-develop green hydrogen hubs in NSW through Fortescue Future Industries.
A plan by Mr Forrest to build a hydrogen-gas turbine power station in the Illawarra region was declared in August to be “critical state-significant infrastructure” and will be fast-tracked.
The Port Kembla station will use up to five per cent green hydrogen.
Mr Forrest told reporters fossil fuels had enjoyed a “magnificent day” but belittling green energy was tantamount to denying the future.
“There will be no bigger industry than green hydrogen, ammonia, electricity … it will dwarf the scale of iron ore and coal,” he said.
“I just say this to everyone concerned about this massive global-scale green energy and green product future coming our way … do not deny your voters, constituents, their future.
“To talk down and belittle the huge green energy sector, which will be the largest in the world, to your constituents, means you’re betraying their trust in you, you’re giving them absolute falsehoods.
“We have a fossil fuel sector in decline all around the world (and) a green energy future which can make steel, fertilisers, cement.
“It will last as long as mankind is on this planet.”
Mr Kean, who is also the NSW environment minister, reiterated the strategy would create economic opportunities and jobs.
The strategy will also seek to “drive deep decarbonisation” in NSW as the state seeks to halve its carbon emissions by 2030.
Mr Kean said he hoped to make NSW one of the world’s best places to invest in green hydrogen.
“Nothing will secure our energy future more than taking advantage of our abundance of renewable energy (sources) and providing products like hydrogen to the rest of the world,” Mr Kean said.
“And we’ll make a lot of money doing so.”
News of the incentives comes days after Queensland announced Gladstone will become a world-leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers – vital to the production of renewable hydrogen.
Aside from the Forrest-backed plant at Port Kembla, a separate dual green hydrogen-gas power plant will be built at Tallawarra.
The coal-powered Liddell Power Station near Muswellbrook, in the NSW Hunter region, is due to go offline in 2023.
“Business has caused the problem (of global warming), business must lead us out of the problem … going green is the biggest single economic opportunity Australia will ever have,” Mr Forrest said.
The Climate Council welcomed the NSW government’s plan, saying it could become a sector leader.
“As one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, why would we invest in any other type of hydrogen?” Climate Council energy expert Madeline Taylor said in a statement.
NSW Labor welcomed the green hydrogen incentive plan but said it would keep a close eye on its implementation.