17 September 2023

Inside the clean, green energy industries springing up around the steelworks and harbour

| Jen White
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Green Gravity's Gravity Lab, set up in an old warehouse at the steelworks.

Green Gravity’s Gravity Lab has been set up in a huge warehouse at the steelworks. The technology raises and lowers heavy weights in a mine shaft to capture and release the gravitational energy of the weights. Photos: Jen White.

If you went to school in the Illawarra in the 70s, 80s or 90s, chances are you had an excursion to the Port Kembla Steelworks.

The steelworks employed about 30,000 people during its peak and directly and indirectly supported hundreds of other Illawarra businesses. Unfortunately, it also had a reputation as a dirty and smelly industrial part of the city.

Things have certainly changed since then, and the latest “excursion” on offer highlights how the steelworks and the surrounding harbour areas have transformed and are actively embracing the transition to clean energy.

Inside Industry runs a number of tours of the steelworks and Port Kembla Harbour from its Visitor Centre at the BlueScope Northgate Entrance, including the new Clean Energy tours.

READ ALSO Heavy vehicles powered by hydrogen can now fill up at Port Kembla

Held on the third Saturday of the month, the two-hour tour takes a look at how Port Kembla is transitioning to renewable energy and hydrogen.

The Port Kembla Hydrogen Hub and NSW Government’s Renewable Energy Zone boasts more than $700 million in major energy projects to be completed by the end of 2024.

Inside Industry Strategic Advisor Stuart Barnes said Port Kembla was at the forefront of Australia’s clean energy transition.

“For close to 100 years, Port Kembla has been one of the most significant hubs of heavy industry in Australia and the commitment of existing and new organisations in investment in clean energy is both essential and positive,” he said.

“The tours will play a key role in demonstrating to the community and stakeholders the importance of the vision of Port Kembla as a hydrogen hub and a renewable energy zone.”

The Clean Energy Tours include Australia’s first heavy vehicle hydrogen refuelling station at Coregas, powered by hydrogen and produced at Port Kembla from recycled water and renewable energy.

Other insights of the tour include:

  • Renewable energy generated by offshore wind farms that have the potential to create local jobs in steel fabrication, turbine assembly and servicing.
  • Australia’s first gas importation terminal being built at Port Kembla that will supply up to 70 per cent of the state’s gas needs and help power the region’s fleet of dual fuel hydrogen capable power stations.
  • BlueScope working towards sustainable steel production and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Green Gravity’s Gravity Lab, a specialised research facility aiming to gather precise performance data from its gravitational energy storage system for disused mines.
  • Wollongong City Council’s Greenhouse Park, built on the site of a former builders’ tip.
The Coregas hyrdrogen refuelling station at the steelworks.

Australia’s first heavy vehicle hydrogen refuelling station at Coregas.

The Clean Energy Tours are supported by the NSW Government, through the Department of Regional NSW and Wollongong City Council, through Invest Wollongong.

Inside Industry also offers tours of the steelworks, including one at twilight, and a tour of the working port. Some age restrictions apply. Group and education tours are available on demand.

For more information, head to the Inside Industry website.

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