In February this year, Karratha was chosen by National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) as one of 15 Regional Hydrogen Technology Clusters across the country.

Last Thursday we had the formal launch of this cluster in the Red Earth Arts Precinct, which was attended by 100 people from all over WA.

A cluster is a place where people and groups connected by a common purpose all work together for the common good.

Our common purpose is the production, use and export of renewable hydrogen for a carbon-free economy. Our Pilbara cluster will include a wide range of resource companies, energy providers, consultants, research institutions, contractors and financiers who wish to partake in this burgeoning new industry.

Renewable hydrogen is made by splitting water into its constituent parts using renewable electricity, which in our part of the world comes largely from the sun: the one thing we have in the Pilbara is lots of sun and lots of land for solar panels.

Hydrogen can be used as a fuel directly into engines, or in a fuel cell to produce electricity to power cars, trucks, trains or power stations.

Already a hydrogen vehicle is cheaper to run than petrol; it takes 3 minutes to refuel; and you can leave the fuel sitting in the tank for years and it will be as good as the day you put it in.

A hydrogen economy in our part of the world will kick start a huge number of new businesses, new trades, and many new jobs. We expect to have hubs across the region in Port Hedland, Onslow and various inland towns. We will become a centre of excellence for hydrogen technology.