Federal Labor says it will now support the controversial Kurri Kurri Gas Plant project, with the understanding its government would ask Snowy Hydro to operate on 30 percent green hydrogen.
Under its plan, the plant will transition to 100 percent green hydrogen usage, it’s hoped by 2030.
With additional investment, the Hunter Power Project is capable of running on 30 percent hydrogen, dependent on fuel logistics, although in its current form under the Federal Government, the plant will likely run initially on just 10 percent hydrogen.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told reporters in Kurri Kurri on Tuesday, the Government couldn’t afford to let the region’s renewable potential slip away.
“I see the Hunter as potentially a green hydrogen powerhouse for Australia and the world,” Mr Albanese said. “Not just producing it here, but exporting it internationally.”
“The problem with this Government, is it’s scared of the present, but terrified of the future.”
Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change Chris Bowen says it’s a necessary investment in the region.
“The Hunter Valley, which has powered Australia for so long, for so many generations, will power Australia into the future, under an Albanese Labor Government,” Mr Bowen said.
“What we’re doing today, is ensuring that Kurri Kurri is at the center of the hydrogen revolution, which is about to take place right around the world.”
Work is due to begin on the plant in coming months, with completion projected for late 2023.
The $600 million, 660 megawatt generator has long been touted as critical to maintain energy reliability and sustainability once Liddell Power Station closes.
It’s understood the Federal Government intends to pipe gas from the Sydney-Newcastle pipeline to power the project.
But Mr Albanese says things need to happen in an intelligent way.
“We need to do something that ensures there’s energy security, but which also ensures it’s done in a way that’s consistent with moving towards net zero by 2050,” Mr Albanese said.
“A way that drives economic growth and drives jobs.”
But the Opposition is facing backlash from both sides of politics.
The Federal Energy Minister described the move as a last minute backflip.
Labor has spent years voicing their opposition to the project on both economic and environmental grounds.
The Gas Free Hunter Alliance pushed the State Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean to block the proposal late last year.
Co-coordinator Fiona Lee says there’s no need to invest taxpayer money in dying industries.
“It’s very important that there’s long-term sustainable jobs in future-focused industries,” Ms Lee said.
“However, we do consider it very important that all money should be committed to a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, and this plan will run on gas and diesel for the first seven years.”
The Hunter Power Project was approved by the NSW Department of Planning in late December, in an embarrassing email bungle.
Ms Lee says at the end of the day, the project doesn’t add up for either party.
“The Australian Energy Market Operator itself, again, has recently said, that there’s no new gas generators required until about 2030,” Ms Lee said.
“So why don’t we wait until such time as this plant is actually needed, and then build it on 100 percent renewable-powered green hydrogen.”