Fortescue acquires Williams Advanced Engineering in drive to win race to net zero


Off the back of the announcement of its partnership with German raw materials giant Covestro, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian-based iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group, has announced the $310 million purchase of UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), an offshoot of the Williams F1 Team, from EMK Capital.

WAE is a world-leading technology and engineering building that has been operating at the forefront of motorsport’s most glamorous category. But now, with FFI, the company’s pedigree and proven performance will be used in the green energy space to help Fortescue win the race to net zero.

In particular, WAE will bring its critical battery technology to FFI in order to help realise the opportunity in green hydrogen, green ammonia and green electricity. Specifically, in Fortescue’s 3km long freight trains, 400 tonne haul trucks and industrial heavy mobile equipment. Indeed, WAE already provided one of their battery systems to power one of FFI’s electric mining haul trucks last year.

According to an FFI statement, one of the first projects the WAE team will be working on is a battery electric train concept.

Fortescue founder and chairman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest declared the race for net zero to be “the race of our lifetimes – the race to save the planet from cooking. The speed at which we move matters. Together FFI and WAE will work to decarbonise Fortescue – with the aim of achieving that faster and more effectively than anyone else in the world.”

FFI Chairman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest announcing the acquisition of Williams Advanced Engineering.

Image: Fortescue Future Industries / Screenshot

This deal is “key to unlocking the formula for removing fossil fuel powered machinery and replacing it with zero carbon emission technology,” continued Forrest, “powered by FFI green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.”

“High performance battery and electrification systems are at the core of what we do at WAE,” said Craig Wilson, WAE CEO, “and this acquisition and investment will enable the company’s further growth to support the delivery of zero emission products and services across existing sectors – such as automotive, motorsport and off-highway – and new sectors too.”

Formula 1 legend Sir Frank Williams passed away last year after a life spent building one of the category’s most successful teams. And much of that success can be put down to Williams’ prioritisation of technological innovation.

Former deputy team principal of the Williams F1 Racing Team, Claire Williams, said she was delighted Fortescue were taking over the mantle of WAE and “I am sure that they will continue to drive considerable success through the business and achieve further results in decarbonising heavy industry and tackling the issue of global warming.”

In 2021, Williams Racing committed to be climate positive by 2030.

Image: Williams Racing

FFI CEO Julie Shuttleworth said “The Acquisition of WAE adds cutting edge technology, intellectual property and engineering capabilities to support and accelerate FFI’s Green Fleet technology pathway. Joining the Fortescue Family will also allow WAE to invest in new technologies and to further commercialise world leading electrification products in new markets. It is also an opportunity to continue to grow the Williams’ family vision of creating cutting edge technology operating at the forefront of innovation in engineering and business.”


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