Fortescue provides backing for Dutch solar module maker


Australian renewable energy company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has joined Dutch investment fund Teslin Participates in providing new growth capital to HyET Solar to support the delivery of a Netherlands-based factory that is expected to produce at least 40MW of thin-film solar PV modules a year.

FFI confirmed the investment in a statement issued on Tuesday but did not disclose the sum. The transaction comes after the Australian company acquired a 60% stake in High Yield Energy Technologies (HyET) Group in October 2021. Thew group’s assets include HyET Solar and hydrogen technology specialist HyET Hydrogen.

FFI has identified HyET Solar’s lightweight Powerfoil solar technology as a key contributor as it looks to produce “millions of tons of cost-competitive green hydrogen by 2030, to support the sustainability targets of its parent company Fortescue and the worldwide energy transition”.

FFI, which plans to establish a 1GW Powerfoil manufacturing plant at Gladstone in Queensland, said by manufacturing the flexible solar modules and electrolysers at immense scale, it aims to drive down the cost of both products and hasten the delivery of affordable green energy to the world.

FFI, which was founded by iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest, has repeatedly declared it intends to build a global portfolio of renewable green hydrogen and green ammonia projects to produce 15 million tons per year of green hydrogen by 2030, rising to 50 million tons per year in the decade thereafter.

FFI has announced plans to build a Powerfoil manufacturing plant in Australia.

Image: HyET Solar

FFI chief executive officer Julie Shuttleworth said the company’s goal is to become the world’s leading, integrated, fully renewable energy and green products company.

“Fortescue Future Industries is focused on delivering 15 million tons per year of green hydrogen globally by 2030,” she said.

“We are working with HyET Solar to ensure we have the best and most efficient solar technology at our fingertips to generate the level of green hydrogen the world needs.

“Already we have a memorandum of understanding in place with E.ON to supply Germany with 5 million tons per annum by 2030. We invested in HyET in 2021 and we are already seeing growth in the value of this investment.”

HyET Solar founder and director Rombout Swanborn said the latest investments by FFI and Teslin would support the development of the company’s Dutch manufacturing plant and assist with the roll out of its business worldwide.

“HyET Solar has the ambition to manufacture at large scale very low-cost PV products offering innovative application possibilities,” he said.

“HyET Solar products are lightweight, flexible and based on thin-film silicon and perovskite technologies. With the investments of Teslin Participates and FFI, two powerful and complementary strategic partners, HyET Solar finds itself in a very attractive position to rapidly roll out its business worldwide.”

Swanborn said the Powerfoil technology is a lightweight, fully flexible, thin-film solar PV module suitable for high-volume markets such as utility scale solar farms as well as high-value markets such as building integrated PV. The company claims the ultra-low weight (0.6 kg/m2) and cheap materials used for its solar technology means it can be installed at a 30% reduction on the levelized cost of energy compared to traditional crystalline-silicon glass modules.

HyET said its Powerfoil technology will allow it to drastically reduce the cost of solar power and is targeting a cost structure for modules of $100k/MW.

FFI has signed a MoU with Firstgas to investigate green hydrogen opportunities in New Zealand.

Image: FFI

FFI’s investment in HyET Solar comes just days after it inked a deal with New Zealand’s biggest gas pipelines operator, Firstgas, to investigate developing green hydrogen projects in that nation.

FFI announced on Monday it had signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with Firstgas to identify opportunities to produce and distribute green hydrogen to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in New Zealand.

FFI and Firstgas will undertake feasibility studies to assess the technical, commercial and operational factors of any projects, which could include the possible use of existing energy assets.

Firstgas is New Zealand’s largest gas network with over 2,500km of high-pressure transmission pipelines and 4,800km of distribution pipelines in the North Island, connecting more than 300,000 homes and businesses to gas.

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