A new partnership between the Queensland Government and Fortescue Metals Group’s (ASX: FMG) green energy subsidiary Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) will see the world’s largest hydrogen equipment manufacturing facilities be built near Gladstone.
The $115 million Global Green Energy Manufacturing (GEM) centre will be funded by FFI and is set to create 120 new construction jobs and 53 operational roles, with those numbers growing to over 300 across the life of the project.
The centre will specialise in the manufacture of equipment critical to the generation of renewable energy and green hydrogen such as electrolysers, solar photovoltaic cells, long-range electric cabling and wind turbines.
Based at Aldoga, west of Gladstone, it will be the first large-scale factory of its kind in Australia, with an initial capacity of 2 gigawatts of electrolysers per annum, which is more than double current global production rates.
The GEM centre will be the first stage of a $1 billion-plus project set to transform regional Australia into a hydrogen production hub for domestic and export use.
It promises to double the world’s green hydrogen production capacity and put Gladstone on the map as a leader in the renewable-hydrogen supply chain.
Construction is expected to commence early next year following final approvals, with the first electrolysers scheduled to roll off the production line 12 months later.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project would boost the state’s growing credentials as an “emerging superpower” in renewable hydrogen.
“We have a strategy to partner with the private sector to make [our state] a world leader in advanced manufacturing and hydrogen generation,” she said.
“This partnership [with Fortescue] will create local jobs, support our economic recovery and create an advanced manufacturing industry in Gladstone that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country.”
Fortescue founder and clean energy advocate Andrew Forrest described the proposed facility as a breakthrough for Australia’s green energy market that signalled the “start of an industrial revolution”.
“This is the future [and] I am convinced we have thousands of times more energy available than we will ever need,” he said.
“[We are] again ahead of the curve and immensely proud to be pioneering this GEM centre which will be a critical step in [our] transition from a significant and successful pure play iron ore producer, to an integrated renewables and green resources powerhouse.”
Only the beginning
Dr Forrest said the project was “only the beginning” of what would be needed moving forward.
“This is just the start of what we need to deliver for Australia, which is over 150 gigawatts between now and the end of this decade,” he said.
“The world will move on from fossil fuel … you can have your own opinion as to when that will happen, but what I promise you is that we will not allow the world to keep on cooking.”
Electrolysers use power to split hydrogen from water to produce energy which can be used for storage, as a feedstock for industrial processes, to produce heat and for a range of transport applications.
If the energy is generated from renewable sources such as solar or wind, the hydrogen emits an emission-free vapour which has no carbon footprint.
It is yet to be confirmed if FFI will use solar or wind to power its electrolysers.