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Twiggy finds a partner for massive Gladstone 'gigafactory'


Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries has struck a deal with the Nasdaq-listed Plug Power the build the Gladstone electrolyser factory.

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FFI chief executive Julie Shuttleworth said as part of the agreement, the two organisations intend to build a “two gigawatt factory” to produce large-scale proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers, with the ability to expand into fuel cell systems and other hydrogen-related refueling and storage infrastructure in the future.

The announcement came as Incitec Pivot revealed that its planned conversion of the Gibson Island ammonia plant into a hydrogen facility would be capable of producing 300,000 tonnes of green ammonia for Australian and export markets.

Hydrogen would replace its current use of gas, but it all depends on a feasibility study which will find whether it is technically and commercially viable, according to the company’s chief executive Jeanne Johns.

Green hydrogen is vastly more expensive than other fuels but produces no CO2 and Incitec is forging ahead with a net zero policy.

“Our net zero pathway includes investigation of alternative feedstocks for nitrogen-based products and the partnership we announced with Fortescue Future Industries is part of this,” Johns said.

“Our current gas supply arrangements at Gibson Island expire in December 2022. We are currently in discussions with gas producers on securing gas at an internationally competitive price beyond 2022. We are working hard to progress discussions and will provide an update in the near future.”

Meanwhile, the FFI joint venture in Gladstone would mean that Plug Power would supply the electrolyser and fuel cell technology and FFI would contribute advanced manufacturing capabilities, according to Shuttleworth. 

“FFI will be the primary customer of the products manufactured by the joint venture, enabling its ambitions in decarbonizing its operations with stationary power and mobility applications running on green hydrogen.

“We need solar panels, wind towers, and electrolyzers in such scale that we need to produce them where we use them – including in Australia. 

“We have enough solar and wind in Australia to power many countries of the world. Working together with Plug Power, we can create this future.” 

Under the agreement, FFI will also purchase 250 megawatts of Plug Power’s electrolyser solutions, used to create hydrogen and oxygen from water, for its Australian projects. 

Plug Power will supply these from its gigafactory in Rochester, New York. Delivery is planned for the second half of 2022.

Plug’s chief executive Andy Marsh said Australia and New Zealand would be a big market opportunity for its green hydrogen ecosystem of electrolyzers, fuel cells, and green hydrogen.

“This year, we will do megawatts of deployment in these markets, and gigawatts in the coming years,” Marsh said.

“Hydrogen fuel cells and electrolyzers have a great future as the world reduces emissions. 

“Green energy, green hydrogen, green ammonia and fuel cells powered by green hydrogen are all essential to support a planet with a high standard of living that will last forever,” added Shuttleworth.

Both companies will fund the joint venture equally and will have equal representation on the board of the joint venture. 

Plug is also building a state-of-the-art production facility in Fresno County, California. 

As the largest green hydrogen production facility on the west coast, the plant will produce 30 metric tons of liquid green hydrogen daily, serving customers from San Diego to Vancouver. 

The California plant joins the company’s growing national network of plants in New York, Tennessee, and Georgia that will supply 500 tons a day of liquid green hydrogen by 2025, replacing 4.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and 1000 tons per day globally by 2028.

When fully built, the network of plants in the U.S. will offer transportation fuel to customers that is price-competitive with diesel.



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