Andrew Forrest starts work on green hydrogen hub in Gladstone and confirms $3 billion for renewable energy farm

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has paved the way for the construction of the world’s largest electrolyser facility in central Queensland, where he also announced a $3 billion investment in a wind, solar and battery farm.

Fortescue Future Industries’ Green Energy Manufacturing (GEM) Center will build equipment to manufacture green hydrogen, including electrolyzers and wind turbines, with the first stage taking place in Aldoga, west of Gladstone.

Mr. Forrest said the $114 million project fills a gap in the market.

“Because electrolyzers are what the world is currently tripping over, big claims and no action, [it] looks a lot like greenwashing,” Forrest said.

“We currently have orders to take these electrolyzers as they roll off the production line next year, and that order list is growing rapidly.”

The facility will be powered by renewable energy and when built will initially have the capacity to produce two gigawatts of electrolysers per year, doubling current global output.

Andrew and Nicola Forrest innovate on the site.(ABC Capricorn: Katrina Beavan)

Growing export potential

The electrolyzers will be built for domestic use and for export.

Construction of the project comes as other companies begin talks about using coal ports for the export of green hydrogen, and not just Gladstone.

On Thursday, Dalrymple Bar Infrastructure (DBI) and North Queensland Bulk Ports announced that they had reached an agreement to carry out a feasibility study on a regional hydrogen hub near the terminal infrastructure currently used for coal.

In a statement from ASX, DBI said the Dalrymple Bay terminal at Hay Point was known worldwide for the “key role it plays in exporting to 25 countries and supporting the supply chain steel world”.

He said the terminal was “ideally placed as a location for a potential green hydrogen facility” due to its deep water port, access to the established Mackay industrial area, availability of land and water. and its position in one of Queensland’s renewable energy areas.

.Master plan map of the FFI Green Energy Hydrogen Manufacturing Facility at Gladstone in Central Queensland
A map details the master plan for FFI’s green energy hydrogen manufacturing facility in Gladstone, central Queensland.(Provided)

Energy independence

As well as the potential for exporting green hydrogen and electrolysers, Mr Forrest said it was crucial for Australia to invest in its own energy resources, especially given the situation in Ukraine.

“Australia’s energy independence as a solution is with us now; do we have the leadership to seize that future, to make our nation fully energy independent?

“We never find ourselves in the position of Germany, where our dollars are funding a foreign invasion.

“We are a peaceful nation, a democratic nation, and we now deserve to produce all of our own energy and to be independent.”

Renewable Energy District

At the launch event, Mr Forrest also announced a $3 billion investment in Clarke Creek Wind, Solar and Battery Park in central Queensland.

Squadron Energy, the energy division of Tattarang, the holding company of the Forrest family’s private business interests, has purchased stages one and two of the project, about 150 kilometers northwest of Rockhampton.

In a statement, Squadron Energy said that when completed, the farm could generate enough wind, solar and battery power to power “more than 660,000 homes, equivalent to 40% of households in Queensland”.

He said the project would make the region “the largest renewable energy area in the southern hemisphere”.

But Mr Forrest said that record would not last long.

“[Due to] other renewable energy projects in development that will exceed our project in scope…we [also] intend to bring other projects that will be bigger than today’s record.”

The company said that since all necessary government approvals and long-term supply agreements are in place, it plans to accelerate the start of construction, with the first stage expected to take place in 2024, followed by the second stage in 2026.

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