Turnbull to chair Fortescue’s ambitious renewable energy business


The launch of Fortescue Metals Group’s (FMG) renewable energy business, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), has been well publicised thanks to its ambitious plans to build one of the biggest renewable energy portfolios in the world, delivering more than 235 GW of renewable capacity (that is five times the current capacity of Australia’s National Energy Market). 

Publicity was helped by the fact that FMG Chairman Andrew ‘ Twiggy’ Forrest and his executives have spent much of the pandemic on a private green journey, putting serious miles on the engine of the FMG jet in a four-month global effort to secure green energy partnerships. 

Clearly, FFI is looking to put its name on the map as much as criss-cross it. So it is no surprise that Forrest wanted some big names to head the team. This week, FMG announced those names, former Director-General of the Office of National Intelligence, Nick Warner, who joins FFI as a Special Advisor International Affairs, and former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who is to join as Australian Fortescue Future Industries (AFFI) Chairman, effective immediately. 

Turnbull has been an outspoken advocate of renewable energy since his days as Environment Minister over a decade ago, and as Forrest put it in a letter to the Australian Stock Exchange, “Mr Turnbull has been involved in key policy decisions that have not only altered Australian society but also have international implications for other countries facing similar issues including the environmental conservation and energy crises.” 

Turnbull has not been shy of criticising his former party since he left office either, particularly when it comes to climate and energy. “He will bring a level of vital experience as we continue our journey to bring FFI to a global audience,” Forrest continued. 

It is hoped that Turnbull, who has both lamented and been a victim of the sycophantic polarisation in Australian politics over the last decade, particularly on the climate issue, will have more success in pushing renewable energy through the private sector. 

Similarly, Nick Warner, a highly experienced Australian diplomat and intelligence official with a long history of regional partnership will, says Forrest, bring his expertise on global intelligence, and critical experience understanding foreign Governments to the fore as FFI explores green hydrogen opportunities. 

FMG has already agreed to partner South Korean steelmaker Posco in a cooperative green hydrogen business

FMG’s share price has more than doubled in the last year, making it Australia’s fourth-biggest listed company. Of course, much of this surge has to do with the rising iron ore price during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is clear that Forrest himself is not sitting back and enjoying his mining billions. The magnate is on a mission to transform his empire into a global green force. 

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