Fortescue Future Industries has signed a memorandum of understanding with a European utility company to distribute its green hydrogen to the continent.
Working with German utility company E.ON, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) plans to export up to five million tonnes of green hydrogen to Europe by 2030. This is equivalent to about one third of the energy imported from Russia to Germany. Fortescue founder Andrew Forrest said that reaching FFI’s targets could cost up to $50 billion.
The commitment was signed by Mr Forrest and E.ON chief operating officer Patrick Lammers at a press conference on Tuesday. The companies will engage in a research and study partnership with more detailed supply plans to be completed in the future.
Mr Forrest said that shipments to Europe would initially be in the form of green ammonia and split into hydrogen upon arrival. However, Mr Forrest also wants to eventually ship liquefied hydrogen to Europe.
The world’s first shipment of liquefied hydrogen was delivered to Japan from Australia in January 2022 under the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Pilot Project between industry and the Commonwealth, Victorian and Japanese Government .
Fortescue Future Industries Founder Andrew Forrest said the partnership would help spur a green industrial revolution.
“The announcement of this historic partnership today aims to diversify the future energy security in Europe. Green energy will reduce fossil fuel consumption dramatically in Germany and quickly help substitute Russian energy supply, while creating a massive new employment intensive industry in Australia. This is a cohesive and urgently needed part of the green industrial revolution underway here in Europe,” Mr Forrest said.
Given its potential to displace a large amount of Russian natural gas imports, Mr Forrest described green hydrogen as “freedom energy.” He further emphasised the potential for Australia to lead the world with regards to renewable energy production.
He also added that “we all know there is so much which we cannot fully answer but as people of honour we will be able to solve it simply through the agreement of our word. We trust each other, the corporations trust each other, and emphatically and most importantly our two countries trust each other.”
FFI chief executive officer (CEO) Julie Shuttleworth said, “we cannot keep gambling our energy security and the planet’s future on fossil fuels. Green hydrogen is the practical, implementable solution to decarbonise and lower emissions.”
More broadly, this announcement builds on the Australian-German Hydrogen Accord that was signed in June 2021. German Vice Chancelllor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck said welcomed the agreement and said that Germany would continue to facilitate deals with Australian companies.
“The race for large scale production and transportation of green hydrogen has taken off. The agreement between E.ON and FFI is a major step forward and puts them in a pole position for the delivery of green hydrogen to German industry,” Vice Chancellor Habeck said.
“I congratulate the two companies and I strongly welcome their contribution to a future without fossil fuels. We will keep fostering initiatives like this one within the German-Australian Energy Partnership
E.ON CEO Leo Birnbaum said the partnership with FFI was an important step in driving the European green energy transition.
“Two major international companies are joining forces to build a “hydrogen bridge” from Australia to Germany and the Netherlands, based on shared values and the joint capability of realising the scale of such a project. Two together make decarbonisation possible for many, which is an encouraging message, especially in these days”, Mr Birnbaum said.
Mr Lammers said that E.ON was experiencing increasing demand for green hydrogen and that he was looking forward to the partnership.
“We look forward to unlocking the potential of this totally green, climate friendly energy source for our customers and are pleased to work towards building a secure value chain with a strong partner like FFI. Together our ambition is to quickly diversify the energy system in Germany and the Netherlands,” Mr Lammers said.
The signing was witnessed by the German State Secretary for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action Michael Kellner and the Australian Ambassador to Germany Philip Green.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited to clarify that the $50 billion figure is an estimate by Andrew Forrest.
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