The clean energy arm of Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Egyptian government to explore the development of a green hydrogen production project with a 9.2 GW installed capacity. The project could also include the construction of local manufacturing facilities for wind and solar components.
Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), which is seeking to create a global portfolio of renewable energy projects to supply 15 million tonnes per year of renewable green hydrogen by 2030, said the project could also include the construction of local manufacturing facilities for wind and solar components.
The 9.2 GW project was the topic of discussion for Forrest and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi when they met at the weekend ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), to be held in Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022.
“Egypt is on the way to becoming a global powerhouse in the green energy value chain and will be ready to show the world that at COP27,” Forrest said.
“Egypt’s excellent wind and solar resources can generate the renewable energy required to produce large-scale green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.”
Sisi said the deal emphasised Egypt’s commitment to catching up with the global march to promote the use of renewable energy and forms part of a national strategy to increase the share of renewables in the country’s total energy mix.
“The meeting tackled collaboration between Fortescue Future Industries and Egypt’s electricity and renewable energy sector in the fields of green hydrogen production and green ammonia with a 9.2 GW installed capacity from renewable energy,” a presidential spokesman said.
“(It also discussed) the localisation of electricity production from solar and wind resources such as solar panels and wind turbines.”
The announcement is the latest for FFI which is exploring multiple projects across renewable energy generation, the manufacturing of clean energy components and green hydrogen production as it seeks to become a “vertically integrated green energy and resources company”.
One of the first key parts of the plan is a 2 GW electrolyser factory being developed in central Queensland. The Gladstone factory is expected to produce its first electrolyser by the end of 2023 but newly appointed chief executive officer Mark Hutchinson said the company is still some time off producing its first green hydrogen.
Hutchinson has been quoted as saying the first production of green hydrogen is at least two years away with first hydrogen exports likely to come from Queensland’s Gibson Island, where the company is working with fertiliser and chemical manufacturer Incitec Pivot to convert its ammonia-production facility to run on green hydrogen. Currently, the facility uses natural gas as a feedstock.
FFI plans to construct an on-site electrolysis plant which will produce up to 50,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year, which would then be converted into green ammonia for Australian and export markets.
“I think the first green hydrogen we produce is probably going to come out of Australia,” Hutchinson said. “Starting off in Gibson Island in Queensland, I would say Queensland will probably be the first cab off the rank to be honest.”
Hutchinson said he expects FFI would start generating revenue by selling hydrogen or ammonia in either 2024 or 2025.
“I’m really hoping we will have some available [in the] ’24, ’25 timeframe,” he said.
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