Illawarra businesses will this month be able to put their hands up to join what resources magnate Andrew Forrest called a "green pollution-free Industrial Revolution" - the development of clean industries based on hydrogen power.
The "deep decarbonisation" plan would see jobs in Illawarra hydrogen industries exceed jobs in coal in the region by 2050, Treasurer Matt Kean said on Wednesday.
Dr Forrest, Premier Dominic Perrottet and Mr Kean launched the state's hydrogen strategy, an ambitious commitment involving $3 billion in incentives and hoping to attract $80 million in investment.
The plan was immediately welcomed in the Illawarra by environmentalists and the business lobby.
Mr Perrottet said NSW could lead the way as Australia became an "energy superpower".
"Our major trading partners see hydrogen as part of their energy future, this state has the skills, infrastructure and renewable energy resources to compete globally in this new industry," he said.
Mr Kean said most of the $3 billion would be spent in the Hunter and Illawarra regions, which have been committed to as the state's "hydrogen hubs".
"We will see 10,000 high paying jobs in the hydrogen industry by 2030, as a result of this policy, and that is only just the start," Mr Kean said.
"We know that the hydrogen industry is a big employer and a big creator of high-paying jobs.
"And those jobs because of the location of deep-water ports will be concentrated in the Hunter and the Illawarra. So it's a natural hedge at a time when the coal industry will be impacted by carbon risk."
Dr Forrest, whose Fortescue Future Industries is planning a gas and hydrogen power plant at Port Kembla, said the transformation would be world-changing.
"That is the start of the green, pollution-free Industrial Revolution," he said.
"I want to reach out to everyone in the coal sector, oil and gas sector and your investors: come with us on this journey. This journey does not have an end. This journey is infinite; it will last as long as mankind does on this planet.
"It is about creating a great economy for hundreds of thousands of great jobs and leaving the planet better than we found it for our kids."
Wollongong Greens Councillor Mithra Cox welcomed the strategy but said it must be based on green hydrogen - produced using renewable energy.
"The green hydrogen industry is particularly important to Wollongong, as it means that we could decarbonise steel production - and it also means a wealth of new jobs and industries," Cr Cox said.
"Wollongong has always been [based] on coal mining, steel making and manufacturing. We want to remain an industrial city - but using the technologies of the 21st Century and ensuring that our future is sustainable."
Business Illawarra executive director Adam Zarth said Illawarra industry was already transforming its energy generation.
"As a carbon-exposed regional economy, our major industrial employers have chosen a path toward a renewable future and the hydrogen production and export opportunity is a huge part of delivering that," he said.