Sam Mella | Hunter Engagement Lead
Yesterday was a major turning point for the Hunter, and regional Australia. Energy Renaissance, an emerging battery manufacturer, announced it’s setting up shop in Tomago. It will build a zero emissions factory, powered by solar energy and its own batteries.
In Beyond Zero Emissions’s recent Million Jobs Plan, thousands of ambitious job creating opportunities were identified for the Hunter region, including energy retrofits to more than 260,000 homes, and the manufacture of zero emissions busses. With Energy Renaissance now on the scene, these important projects can be delivered with locally made batteries.
Australia is incredibly lucky to have all of the raw materials needed to make world-class batteries. To date, most of these have been exported unprocessed. New businesses like Energy Renaissance will grow demand for an onshore minerals processing industry as well as stimulate growth in an Australian battery industry. This is excellent news for advanced manufacturing and for commercialising the latest lithium ion battery expertise from Australian researchers.
There will be thousands of local jobs created. Energy Renaissance’s modelling shows 305 construction jobs and 1242 direct jobs when the factory reaches full production. Plus, an estimated 6500 “upstream” jobs in other sectors, to support this one factory. This couldn’t happen at a better time for the Hunter.
While some of these batteries will be sold locally, most will be exported to southeast Asia through the Port of Newcastle. This transforms the way we export energy from the Hunter. The batteries will essentially be exporting the Australian sun, “embodied” in the manufacturing process. They remove greenhouse gas emissions from the supply chain, which is becoming an important consideration for businesses and nations around the world.
This factory is fully funded by private investment, demonstrating that investors are hungry for clean energy investments in the Hunter. As an existing energy hub, the Hunter has the infrastructure, workforce and manufacturing know-how that makes it attractive to private capital. Energy Renaissance acknowledged the port facilities, the existing trained workforce, and the expertise coming from Newcastle Uni and the CSIRO as its key reasons for choosing our region.
Just a fortnight ago, Beyond Zero Emissions showcased the “Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct” (REIP) concept to a group of investors representing $150 billion in private capital. A REIP is a cluster of clean-tech industries that bring the value chain onshore to regional Australia, and is powered by 100% renewable energy. Energy Renaissance’s announcement demonstrates that the Hunter’s REIP is already underway.
The Hunter is on the way to becoming a next generation energy superpower, and everybody wins.