Illawarra Clean Energy Summit

14 August 2023





Stretching from the Southern reaches of Sydney to south of the magnificent Shoalhaven River the Dharawal people have had stewardship of this country for millennia, a fact we acknowledge and celebrate. 

But some things we can't celebrate. 

The fact that Indigenous people in remote Australia are among the most energy insecure people in the world. 

The fact that climate change makes every inequality worse, including Indigenous inequality. 

These are matters that Australia's First Peoples deserve a voice to their Parliament on. 

This is the choice facing the Australian people later in the year.

More of the same or a fresh approach to indigenous disadvantage?

Continuing to acknowledge traditional owners in speeches but not in our Constitution or fixing that glaring anomaly…

Some people say this is a radical change - 

New Zealand reached a constitutional settlement with their first peoples in 1840 and guaranteed Māori voices in Parliament in 1867.  

Canada recognised their first peoples in their constitution in 1982. 

2023 is Australia's year to make this right. 

I want to acknowledge Stephen Jones and Alison Byrnes. 

Two MPs more focussed on the importance of the energy transition for regional Australia you will not find. 

They work with your industries, traditional and emerging, with a laser-like focus on ensuring the Illawarra seizes the jobs opportunities of this massive economic transformation. 

And it’s a pleasure working with them. 

I also acknowledge Minister Paul Scully. It's a pleasure working with Paul, NSW Energy Minister Penny Sharpe and of course Premier Minns, on our joint vision for renewable energy in NSW.

I also want to acknowledge the passing of Illawarra’s own Professor Justin Yerbury, who spent his life researching motor neurone disease, the very disease which took his life. I know the profound pride and respect the region had for Professor Yerbury and I’m sure the entire research community, not just the health community, is feeling this loss profoundly. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

You miss him, but you can be proud of him. 


Illawarra and the energy transformation

Well thank you Business Illawarra for organising the Illawarra Clean Energy Summit and Expo.

It comes after the excellent Illawarra Renewable Energy Expo that Alison Byrnes organised at Parliament House a few months ago and I was very pleased to attend. 

Both of these summits have been great opportunities to showcase the Illawarra’s potential to be a renewable powerhouse as part of our plans to make Australia a renewable energy export superpower. 

I was last at one of your events in the lead up to the last election. 

I talked then about how regions like the Illawarra would be at the centre of the energy revolution and about regional job creation under an Albanese Government. 

It was a concept then, an idea.

But today I can give you a practical progress report on your region's role in that transformation.  And it’s quite the story. 

And importantly, I'm going to announce the very significant next steps. 

It's appropriate that we are here at Bluescope. 

Nothing says jobs, energy and transformation like Bluescope.

Nothing says Illawarra jobs like Bluescope. 

This is my second visit to a Bluescope facility in three days. 

On Friday, I was present in my electorate when Mark Vassella announced a $400 million commitment to manufacturing in my part of the world, which I took as a great vote of confidence in Australia's manufacturing future. 

But as welcome as that investment is, I'm under no illusions that my hometown will ever rival your hometown in terms of Bluescope's importance.

And I know Bluescope's plans for the future have both the Illawarra, and renewable energy, at their core. 

As you know, this year we reformed the Safeguard Mechanism, to provide policy certainty to drive real and meaningful reductions in industrial emissions. 

I make no apology for working closely with companies like Bluescope and Liberty Steel to ensure we got the policy settings right so that those emissions reductions are accompanied by investments to grow jobs. 

And importantly, to ensure that products that are vital to our economic future and our renewable energy transformation, like steel, aluminium and cement are made in Australia.

Of course another vital and cherished Illawarra institution is the University of Wollongong. I've visited the Uni's Energy Futures Network more times than I can count.  

It's doing really important and impressive work under the leadership of the much respected Ty Christopher.

In January, I was pleased to join Alison Byrnes in announcing more than $1 million funding towards a UOW study finding ways to keep Australia’s grid secure through the renewable energy transformation underway.

Local ingenuity with huge potential to help energy grids accommodate variable energy outputs, such as wind and solar generation.

In February, the Prime Minister announced a $10 million investment, also at the University of Wollongong, to establish an Energy Futures Skills Centre located at the university, with a second investment of $2.5 million to upgrade equipment and teaching aids, creating a Renewable Energy Training facility at the Wollongong TAFE.

The two facilities will work together to help build the energy workforce of the future, using state-of-the-art teaching laboratories and upgraded equipment to provide real world examples of clean energy technology for teaching and research.

This investment will deliver teaching programs to re-train and upskill workers for a career in clean energy and clean manufacturing.

But friends, perhaps the best example from the last year of our investments in Illawarra's future comes not from Wollongong, but from Berlin. 

Because in January in Berlin, I held a press conference with the German Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger to announce joint Australian and German Government funding for Illawarra based company Hysata under the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator (HyGATE) initiative for a pilot stage 200KW electrolyser. 

The fact that the government of the industrial powerhouse of Europe, which knows green hydrogen is key to its economic future, has joined with us from the other side of the world to invest in the Illawarra says it all I reckon.

And, I'll give you some exclusive news.  When I leave this summit this morning, I'm going over to Hysata to announce a further $20.0 million investment through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

This funding will go towards developing an advanced electrolyser that can produce renewable hydrogen more efficiently. 

This means driving down costs for renewable hydrogen – vital to reducing emissions in steel making and so much more.

The cutting-edge project will demonstrate the effectiveness of Hysata’s electrolyser technology at a scale of five megawatts with an aim of a 20% increase in efficiency compared to current electrolysers in use today.

And in an example of collaboration between Australia's great regions, the electrolyser demonstration unit will be installed at Stanwell Power Station outside of Rockhampton after development work takes place at Hysata’s Port Kembla facility.

The potential for green hydrogen is enormous. And I want the Illawarra to get its share of the action. 

Global demand for renewable hydrogen is growing rapidly and is projected to reach around 500 million tonnes per year by 2050. 

By 2050, Australia’s hydrogen industry could generate $50 billion in additional GDP and create over 16,000 jobs, as well as an additional 13,000 jobs from the construction of renewable energy infrastructure to power the production of green hydrogen.

It’s why we allocated $2 billion towards the Hydrogen Headstart program - to create a local hydrogen industry by underwriting some of the largest electrolyser deployments in the world.

And also today, I'm announcing another big step in Illawarra's renewable energy future. 


Offshore wind

For green hydrogen and the work of companies like Hysata to be viable, we are going to need to generate plenty more renewable energy. 

Australia is the world's largest island, without any offshore wind. 

We lag the rest of the world, which has been developing this industry for years. 

This is something our Government has been working fast to fix. 

Offshore wind can help with energy security and resilience due to its power capacity and availability at times when solar power and onshore wind are not available.

The International Energy Agency has even referred to it as in a class of its own – variable baseload power.

As one of Australia’s pre-eminent economists Ross Garnaut has argued, Australia could reduce global emissions by as much as eight per cent through zero-emissions goods, far, far, more than the impact of our own domestic emissions reduction and far more than even Europe.

So offshore wind has a role to play, powering industries in the Illawarra and contributing to decarbonisation everywhere. 

We have some of the best wind resources in the world - just one turn of one offshore wind turbine provides as much energy as an average rooftop solar installation generates in one day.

This new industry will provide opportunities to reduce emissions and fast track job and economic development opportunities for regional Australia particularly in clean energy generation and manufacturing. 

Offshore wind is energy rich. It's jobs rich too. 

Good to excellent offshore wind locations exist at strategic locations. These include sites with existing energy generation facilities and industrial hubs with strong connections to existing transmission networks, near major export ports, and near industrial hubs where the transmission grid is the strongest.

Sounds a lot like the Illawarra doesn't it? 

12 months ago we announced the first steps in creating a new renewable energy industry, with the announcement of six proposed regions with world-class offshore wind energy potential – including your region.

Today I'm announcing the next significant step in the development of Illawarra's offshore wind industry. 

Offshore wind is important.  It's also important we get it right. 

Consultation is key. How we transition is vital - bringing people together and bringing them along on this journey.

So today I am announcing the beginning of the formal public consultation period on the Illawarra Offshore Wind Zone. 

I am releasing the draft map of the proposed area for community feedback. 

The area I am beginning consultation on today is 1461 square kilometres.

It could potentially generate up to 4.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 3.4 million homes. 

The proposed area could support 2,500 jobs during construction and a further 1250 ongoing jobs.

Public consultation begins today and will be open until 16 October. 

Residents and local businesses often have questions and views about amenity, fishing and environmental impacts. 

All of which I will take into account when determining the final area after consultation ends. 

But this is unalloyed good news for the Illawarra.  

It means jobs, jobs, jobs. 

It means there is a new source of affordable and clean power for Illawarra industries. 

I encourage Illawarra households, businesses and communities to engage fully in the consultation process my Department will be running over the next two months.



Friends, when I last spoke to Business Illawarra, I said that this region would be front and centre in the energy transformation with all the opportunities that it provides. 

And so it has proved to be. 

Today, I've given you a progress report. 

But here's the best bet. 

We're just warming up!

Here and across our country, we have only just begun to unleash our potential as a renewable energy superpower. 

There is so much more to do!

And we are going to do it together. Government. Business. Industry. Unions. Communities. Councils. Universities. All of us.  Together. 

We're setting a cracking pace.  Let’s get cracking even more.