Liddell power station celebrated its 50th birthday in May this year with former employees returning on site to mark the occasion and celebrate a time when coal was king.
Today owner of Liddell AGL Energy was marking another significant moment in the history of industrial development in the Hunter Valley with the announcement of they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Fortescue Future Industries to explore the development of a green hydrogen facility.
The company is planning to establish a Hunter Energy Hub at their Liddell and Bayswater power stations, located between Singleton and Muswellbrook.
With Liddell power station set to close in 12 months time AGL described this project as being powered by clean energy, delivered through grid-scale batteries, solar thermal storage, wind, pumped hydro and the co-location of industry.
It comes a week after the release of the draft Hunter Regional Plan where such projects are mentioned as part of the NSW government's desire to reach net zero emission by 2050.
Job creation in new industries is one of the most important issues facing the Central and Upper Hunter and AGL Energy say their energy hub is capable of creating 1000 jobs.
AGL CEO and Managing Director, Graeme Hunt said this is the first major step in identifying the potential demand for green hydrogen in the Hunter Valley, including domestic and export pathways.
"We have a long history of supporting the development of new technology as early investors in wind and other renewables and we want to do the same in partnerships with Australia's emerging hydrogen industry." Mr Hunt said.
"Fortescue is leading the charge on the development of green hydrogen in Australia and abroad, and we are excited to bring our site and expertise in large-scale renewable generation to the fold.
"We believe this project, along with the others in our Hunter Energy Hub, could drive the development of around 1,000 permanent jobs across energy production, advanced manufacturing, recycling and the production of chemicals.
"Over the next 12 months we will undertake a feasibility study which will map key operational and commercial plans for the project and enable the development of a production timeline.
"Early estimates suggest the site can ultimately support a hydrogen facility of GW scale, but we will also test critical inputs including renewable energy costs, firming requirements, electrolyser capital costs, logistics and utilisation."
AGL Chief Operating Officer, Markus Brokhof said that upon completion, the Hunter Energy Hub will be the first of its kind in Australia and set a model for our other sites and industry in Australia.
"Our aim for the hub is to develop strong partnerships that enable an efficient ecosystem and create a circular economy" Mr Brokhof said.
"Liddell and Bayswater benefit from unique energy infrastructure, positioned with strong grid connectivity, established transport links, workshops and proximity to water supply and industrial activity.
"As we move towards Liddell's closure, I want to reaffirm our strong commitment to supporting our workforce and the Hunter region.
"The site and people who have worked here have been the backbone of the electricity grid and we're committed to seeing it continue its legacy in the next phase of its life.
"The future is bringing the best in low-carbon technologies together to shape a cleaner energy future to ensure customers have sustainable, secure and affordable electricity."
FFI Founder and Chair, Dr Andrew Forrest AO, said FFI's goal is to turn regional Australia into the global green energy heartland and create thousands of jobs now and so many more in the future.
"Repurposing existing fossil fuel infrastructure with forward looking companies like AGL to create green hydrogen to help power the world, is the solution we have been looking for," Dr Forrest said.
"I wish to thank my forward-looking friend AGL Managing Director and CEO, Graeme Hunt, who the first iron ore industry leader to declare my then embryonic iron ore company, Fortescue Metals Group, as a very real future player in the highly competitive iron ore industry - thank you Graeme for exercising the same vision today.
"Green hydrogen is the only true zero-carbon, zero-methane fuel - every other type of hydrogen requires the burning of fossil fuels.
"It is a practical, implementable solution that can collapse emissions and create strong economies worldwide if leaders like Graeme are fully supported by global investors and local government alike.
"This is another important step in turning the corner once and for all, to implement the technologies carbon emitters, like us, to reach net zero."