The Illawarra's selection as one of two "Hydrogen Hubs" in NSW will give access to a pool of at least $70 million in funding to create low-carbon manufacturing and employment opportunities.
Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean on Friday confirmed the Illawarra and Hunter regions would be the hubs which receive most of the funding.
Existing infrastructure was key to the two regions, long known as steel and coal domains, being selected.
"The Illawarra will play a pivotal role in the future of hydrogen production In NSW with its existing access to existing energy infrastructure, sustainable water sources, ports and logistics capabilities and a future supply of cheap, reliable renewable energy," Mr Kean said.
"We have identified the Illawarra as one of two key regions that will be home to the state's first green hydrogen hubs.
"The development of hydrogen hubs in NSW will be key for us delivering our net zero by 2050 commitments."
The distribution of the $70 million will be clearer after an Expression of Interest program opening next month.
Mr Kean mentioned the Illawarra as a hydrogen hub at Port Kembla on Monday, but did not give any details or reveal the expenditure.
He announced a $750 million "Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program" where polluting industries can win funding from the taxpayer to help them invest in lower-emission technologies.
This would include $380 million for existing industries to "re-tool" with lower-emission alternatives, $175 million to set up low-carbon industries including hydrogen, and $195 million for research and development of new clean technologies. The $70 million for hydrogen hubs comes from this.
Hydrogen hubs will provide groups of hydrogen users common infrastructure for local production, use and distribution.
"By 2050, green hydrogen has the potential to drive $350 billion in investment across Australia in current dollars and up to $26 billion per year in additional GDP, supporting the emergence of new decarbonised industries such as green steel and ammonia," Mr Kean said.
The move was welcomed by Climate Council spokesman Greg Bourne.
"NSW is showing it's serious about tackling climate change and protecting Australians, and in doing so, is cashing in on Australia's renewable energy and clean industry potential," he said.
"Only green hydrogen, produced from renewable energy, can play a role in our net zero emissions future.
"The Illawarra region has a strong network of energy infrastructure and skilled workers who are primed to seize the economic opportunities of renewable hydrogen. With the right training and support, workers can transition smoothly from coal jobs to jobs in the clean hydrogen industry."
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