Iron ore tycoon and philanthropist Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has played a major role in the renewable energy sector with a $3 billion investment promising power for more than 650,000 homes.
The wind, solar and battery farm in central Queensland is billed as the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and is part of its plan to make the state a “green energy superpower”.
“We are investing in Clarke Creek not just to harness renewable energy from the wind and the sun to power our homes, factories and cities, but as a critical step in breaking our reliance on fossil fuels,” Dr. Forrest said.
The billionaire is also filling a gaping hole in Australia’s manufacturing capacity.
Australia is one of the world’s leading sources of minerals needed for the energy transition, but it lacks crucial capabilities further down the value chain.
Construction of the world’s largest electrolyser facility has begun in Queensland, as the first stage of Fortescue Future Industries’ (FFI) Green Energy Manufacturing (GEM) Center in Gladstone.
The electrolyser will have an initial capacity of two gigawatts per year, more than double current global production, and enough to produce more than 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen each year.
Instead of using coal or gas to make hydrogen for industrial use, FFI aims to produce 15 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2030, which is equivalent to removing 60 million diesel cars Traffic.
The first electrolysers are expected to be manufactured at the plant in early 2023 and are expected to be used in Queensland as part of FFI’s proposed green hydrogen to ammonia project at Gibson Island.
Meanwhile, the energy farm move will see its Energy Squadron acquire the Clarke Creek Renewable Energy Operation and begin expansion work immediately.
“We have begun construction of what will be the largest renewable energy area in the southern hemisphere,” he said, noting that the scale of this project will soon be surpassed by others under construction. implementation.
The investment announcement comes after fellow Australian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes launched a bid to acquire AGL Energy and switch the country’s largest electricity generator from coal to renewable sources by 2030.
AGL rejected the original offer, which was worth about $8 billion.
But Mr. Cannon-Brookes remains hopeful of striking a deal and injecting $20 billion in capital into the energy transition.
Dr Forrest – who made his fortune in the mining sector – and his wife Nicola, have also been strong advocates of Australia’s need to fight for an emissions-free energy future.
The new district, northwest of Rockhampton, will feed into the grid and eventually produce enough electricity for around 660,000 homes.
The first stage of construction is expected to be operational by 2024, and a next stage online by 2026, with development approvals already obtained.
“Climate change is the greatest threat to our existence, and we must meet this global challenge with tenacity and speed,” he said.
Australian Associated Press