Fortescue, a major iron ore producer, has begun construction on potentially the world’s largest electrolyser facility in Australia, according to the company.
The site will be the first stage of Fortescue Future Industries’ (FFI) Green Energy Manufacturing Centre (GEM) in Gladstone, Queensland.
The electrolyser facility will have an initial capacity of two gigawatts per annum – more than doubling current global production, and enough to produce more than 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen each year, according to the company.
Electrolysers can use variable power from wind and solar to manufacture hydrogen as a stable energy source. Hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel that will decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors such as heavy haulage, shipping, aviation, and industry.
Stage one is the $83 million electrolyser facility, which will be expanded as current demand indications crystalise, according to the statement. The GEM has several growth stages already planned into its factory footprint. These include green manufacturing technology such as cables, batteries, wind turbines and solar panels.
The GEM will be powered by green energy and become a major new pollution-free green manufacturing hub. The GEM will help create hundreds of new direct and indirect jobs in regional Queensland.
FFI aims to become the world’s leading integrated, fully renewable energy and green products company, powering the Australian economy and creating jobs.
The company plans to scale up green hydrogen production to 15 million tonnes per year by 2030 – the equivalent of removing 60 million diesel fuel cars off the road this decade.
The aim is to become a world leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers. The first electrolysers manufactured at the facility in early 2023 are earmarked to be used in Queensland at FFI’s proposed green hydrogen-to-ammonia project at Gibson Island.
Global demand for electrolysers is expected to soar as the world transitions to new energy sources, according to FFI CEO Julie Shuttleworth.
“Fortescue Future Industries is ahead of the curve. The electrolyser facility is set to be complete by early next year and will quickly scale up to meet the growing demand for electrolysers. We plan to manufacture other renewable energy components in future expansions,” Shuttleworth said.
The multi-gigawatt-scale electrolyser factory is a 50-50 joint venture (subject to approvals) between FFI and Plug Power Inc.