Australian entrepreneur Andrew Forest, chair of Fortescue Future Industries (and its parent company Fortescue Metals Group) has agreed a memorandum of understanding with Germany’s E.ON to provide green hydrogen to the power utility.
Vast in scope, the plan behind the MoU is that Fortescue would provide 5 million tonnes of hydrogen per year, requiring an enormous deployment of additional renewable power generation. This would be shipped to Germany and the Netherlands, potentially displacing around a third of pre-war imports of natural gas from Russia. E.ON would supply the green hydrogen mostly for heating and industrial processes. It is unclear at present when supply would begin, but the earliest commencement of production seems likely to be 2024, with a ramp-up afterwards. (Germany aims to be largely independent of Russian gas by 2024.)
Given that the EU as a whole has a target of using 20 million tonnes of hydrogen per year by 2030, the potential supply is of continental significance. German minister of the economy, Robert Habeck, was present at the signing of the MoU and said that the “race for large scale production and transportation of green hydrogen has taken off…The agreement between E.ON and FFI is a major step forward and puts them in pole position for the delivery of green hydrogen to German industry.”