FFI unveils ‘in house’ electrolyser prototype shortly after Plug Power partnership collapse

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Fortescue Future Industries, the green energy arm of Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Group, has now completed the construction of its electrolyser manufacturing facility in Gladstone, Queensland. 

The Gladstone facility was initially meant to be producing polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysers based on Plug Power’s technology, but the US company walked away from its FFI deal in January saying the economics didn’t stack up.

Despite the collapsed technology partnership, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has unveiled its first PEM electrolyser prototype. During an analysts briefing on Monday, April 24, CEO Mark Hutchinson revealed few details about the prototype and the technology it has been developed with, other than to say it was developed ‘in house.’ He added the company is “on track” to produce its own brand of electrolysers from the production line in the new Gladstone facility this year.

The Gladstone factory is still aiming to produce 2 GW of electrolyser capacity annually, though Hutchinson noted that ramping up to this capacity will take “a couple of years.”

The Gladstone factory’s automated production line and testing facilities are currently being fitted, FFI said.

Hutchinson also pointed out the prototype did not mean FFI would not be purchasing electrolysers from other companies. “Our need is going to be enormous globally,” he said. “So we have retained great relationships with all the suppliers around the world actually and we’ll be dealing with with different suppliers in different different situations around the world.”

The company is hoping to bring five green hydrogen-based projects to final investment decision (FID) this year. Those include:

  • US project in Arizona and Texas to supply green hydrogen for mobility
  • Brazil project exporting green ammonia to Europe
  • Kenya project with 300 MW green ammonia for fertiliser production
  • Norway project with 300 MW electrolyser capacity to export green ammonia to mainland Europe
  • Australian project replacing an existing gas-fed ammonia facility at Gibson Island into a renewables-fed green ammonia facility.

Of these five projects, the Gibson Island plan is the most developed. 

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