11/10/2021 - 09:00

Forrest, Qld in ammonia production tilt

11/10/2021 - 09:00

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Fortescue Future Industries will conduct a feasibility study on ammonia production in Brisbane, its second major deal in two days after announcing a hydrogen manufacturing hub in Gladstone.

Forrest says Brisbane green ammonia would compliment other Queensland hydrogen projects. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries will conduct a feasibility study with Incitec Pivot on ammonia production in Brisbane, marking its second major deal in two days after announcing a hydrogen manufacturing hub in Gladstone.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the government had approved the study on Monday, one day after she and Mr Forrest announced that one of the world's largest hydrogen-equipment facilities would be built in Gladstone in northern Queensland.

The study, due to be completed within three months, will investigate building a new water electrolysis plant on Incitec Pivot's Gibson Island fertiliser plant in Brisbane.

It would produce about 50,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year, which would then be converted into green ammonia for Australian and export markets.

Both the study, and the Gladstone manufacturing plant, are being build in partnership with billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest's Fortescue Future Industries.

Ms Palaszczuk said setting up a hydrogen industry would help Queensland transition to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

"We have coal, we have gas, and we have renewables, but what we know is that hydrogen is going to be the secret to our long term success," she told reporters.

"That is why our government has been very carefully mapping the path to our hydrogen revolution right across our state that is why we have committed to 50 per cent renewables by 2030."

However, the premier said the state would continue to support thousands of workers in the coal and gas industries.

Mr Forrest said producing green ammonia in Brisbane would complement other hydrogen projects in Queensland.

However, he warned fossil fuels were "a declining industry in anyone's terms", so transitioning to renewables would give workers options.

"Have both, but what you must not do is listen to anyone who says, 'You must just have fossil fuel, I'm fighting for your jobs'. That is not true," Mr Forrest said.

"People who say that will be denuding Queensland of its economy and robbing you of your careers, your jobs, and your future.

"You can have both Queensland, you can have both Australia. Australia and Queensland, we deserve by the renewable energy sector as you can see, it's growing and growing rapidly."

On Sunday, Ms Palaszczuk said Gladstone would become a world-leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers - vital to the production of renewable hydrogen.

More than 300 jobs are expected to be created during construction and thousands more in the years following.

"We don't just want to export our resources, we want to develop a manufacturing industry capable of making the electrolysers in Queensland as well," the premier told reporters on Sunday.

"Andrew Forrest and I both see Queensland's great potential as a renewables exporter and manufacturer of hydrogen equipment."

Interstate battle

Shadow state development minister David Honey said Fortescue's decision to build an electrolyser manufacturing plant in Gladstone reflected poorly on the Western Australian state government.

“It defies belief that Andrew Forrest would choose to establish a $1 billion green hydrogen manufacturing (facility) in Queensland over his home state of WA, which has world class renewable resources for green hydrogen production,” Dr Honey said.

“This points to a complete failure by WA Labor to put in place the necessary infrastructure and incentives to develop green hydrogen export jobs, including failures on the Oakajee Industrial Estate and the transmission line to Geraldton.

“Green hydrogen and its associated value-adding jobs is arguably the single largest new economic opportunity in Western Australia in the last 50 years.

“However, unlike iron ore, oil and gas it is a globally competitive market and Western Australia is being left behind and this will have long-term implications for jobs and the economy.”

He said the government’s hydrogen strategy was insufficient, with only $7 million committed to the Oakajee development.

But Hydrogen Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the state government was working to facilitate Fortescue's ambitions in WA, which she said were enormous.

Those included potential manufacturing opportunities in the north west.

“There was no work done on hydrogen under the previous Liberal-National Government – when we came to government, we immediately set about developing a Renewable Hydrogen Strategy with clear targets for the State, which we are on track to meet," Ms MacTiernan said.

“Our Government’s proactive approach has led to more than 30 hydrogen projects in active planning across the State. We are working with dozens of proponents on large-scale hydrogen projects, from Kununurra to Eucla, and are anticipating major developments in coming months.

“With our latest Budget funding boost, we now have around $90 million on the table to drive this industry forward."

The state government opened an expression of interest process for a renewable hydrogen project at Oakajee last year, with more than 60 parties keen to be involved, including proponents and equipment providers.

The government has also been working to establish a wind farm manufacturing hub in WA.

The Oakajee project is one of many potential renewable hydrogen projects in the state.

BP undertook feasibility work on a project in nearby Geraldton, finding it was technically feasible, although the economics were less clear.

InterContinental Energy is pursuing very large scale developments in the Great Southern and the Pilbara.

Meanwhile, Fortescue Future Industries has been looking internationally for opportunities, including Papua New Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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