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Fortescue boss Andrew Forrest opens world-class electrolyser manufacturing hub in Queensland

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By Colin Hay - 
Fortescue ASX FMG hydrogen electrolyser hub Gladstone Andrew Forrest

Fortescue (ASX: FMG) executive chair and founder Andrew Forrest has declared himself a green energy “first mover” with the opening of a world-class hydrogen electrolyser manufacturing facility in Gladstone, Queensland.

One of the first plants globally to house an automated assembly line, the 15,000 square metre manufacturing facility will have capacity to produce over 2 gigawatts of proton exchange membrane electrolyser stacks annually.

“We are grateful for the Queensland and federal government’s vision and early support to help get us started,” Mr Forrest said.

“Together we have laid the cornerstone for what will be a massive new manufacturing industry in Australia creating the potential for thousands of new green energy jobs.”

Large-scale producer

Fortescue Energy chief executive officer Mark Hutchinson said the Gladstone facility, which produces electrolysers designed in-house by Fortescue teams in Australia and the United States, establishes the company as an original equipment manufacturer.

“The process of splitting hydrogen and oxygen isn’t new – but the innovative ways the world is looking to use green hydrogen to decarbonise are and that means demand for green hydrogen and for the electrolysers to produce it is growing rapidly,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“This facility positions Fortescue and Gladstone as a large-scale producer of what will be an increasingly sought-after commodity in the global shift to green energy.”

“We’re strategically focussed on building out our energy business.”

“Not only are we developing a pipeline of green energy projects, we’re also now designing and manufacturing the specialised equipment and technology that will underpin our green hydrogen projects and that of others.”

Government support

The development of the site was enabled by support from the Queensland government, including the provision of an electrical sub-station, road network, communications and local scheme water connection, as well as the allocation of land.

The Australian government also contributed $44 million from the Collaboration Stream of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

Electrolysers split hydrogen and oxygen by passing an electrical current through water, which is made up of both molecules.

“We know that technology in this space moves very quickly so as well as producing electrolysers today, this facility also provides an amazing environment for our team to learn and then leverage that experience to drive innovation and develop the solutions of tomorrow,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“We will continue to research, manufacture, source and invest in new electrolyser technologies across the world to give us the best possible competitive position.

First of several phases

The electrolyser facility is the first stage of a wider Green Energy Manufacturing Centre being developed by Fortescue on the 100-hectare Gladstone site, the next phases of which will also include a hydrogen system testing facility and Fortescue’s 50MW PEM50 green hydrogen project.

More than 100 jobs were created during the construction process, with the facility and wider centre to ultimately underpin over 300 direct and indirect jobs.

Queensland premier Steven Miles said the Fortescue manufacturing facility is the first in Australia to build hydrogen electrolysers at a commercial scale and one of the largest globally.

It has an initial production capacity of over 2GWpa—significantly increasing current global production and, at full capacity, enough to produce more than 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen each year.

Mr Miles used the official opening to announce government approval for the PEM50 production facility.