Fortescue does 550 MW electrolyser deal for Gibson Island project

Fortescue is pressing ahead with the development of a 70,000-tonne green hydrogen production facility at Gibson Island in Queensland, tapping North American hydrogen technology company Plug Power to supply 550 MW of electrolysers for the proposed project.

Just days after signing a solar supply deal[2] that will satisfy a portion of the renewable energy requirements for the planned Gibson Island facility, Fortescue has named Plug Power as the preferred supplier of the 550 MW proton-exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen electrolyses it will need for the project near Brisbane.

Fortescue Energy Chief Executive Officer Mark Hutchinson said the proposed electrolyser supply contract “is another step towards fulfilling our ambition to make a final investment decision on the project this calendar year.”

“We believe there is strong demand globally for the green hydrogen we will produce, and we must move quickly to meet that demand,” he said.

The proposed 550 MW electrolyser supply contract is subject to final negotiations and approvals and Fortescue’s final investment decision on the Gibson Island project.

Hutchinson said that decision is expected by the end of 2023.

Once operational, the plant is expected to be capable of producing up to 70,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually, which would then be converted into approximately 385,000 tonnes of green ammonia for domestic and export markets.

In addition to the electrolyser supply deal, Fortescue and Plug Power have also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to investigate opportunities to collaborate on large-scale green hydrogen projects on a global basis. This could include equity trades in Fortescue’s proposed Phoenix hydrogen hub[3] and in Plug Power’s Texas hydrogen plant.

Under the terms of the MOU, the two companies will also evaluate the potential supply of a range of equipment including electrolysers, liquefiers, tanker trailers and stationary storage tanks for green hydrogen production projects in North America.

The new agreement comes after Plug Power last year walked away[4] from building an electrolyser manufacturing plant near Gladstone in Queensland with Fortescue.

The two companies had signed a letter of intent to create a 50-50 joint venture to build a ‘gigafactory’, aiming to manufacture 2 GW of hydrogen electrolysers annually, but Plug Power abandoned the plans.

Fortescue has continued with the project using its own electrolyser technology and Hutchinson said the company remains willing to work with Plug Power, saying the two companies share a common mission to build out and scale up a global green hydrogen ecosystem.

“It is vital that first movers like Plug Power and Fortescue continue to work together to develop and scale-up the green energy and green hydrogen industries in Australia and North America,” he said.

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