Forrest on the Hydrogen Trail in Argentina

Twiggy Forrest is continuing his global Green Hydrogen tour with news of a potentially multi-billion-dollar prospect in Argentina.

In a statement on Monday the Argentinian government said a potential $US8.4 billion green hydrogen deal had been discussed at a meeting between the Fortescue metals Group chair and Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez.

The government said Fernandez and Forrest met on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Forrest and Fortescue Metals Group (through its Fortescue Future Industries arm) has emerged as perhaps the globe’s biggest (and loudest) backer of green hydrogen, a zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis using renewable power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

It is seen as a clean replacement for fossil fuels in industries otherwise hard to decarbonize – steel, other metal processing, supply power stations to make electricity. The International Renewable Energy Agency see rapid growth in coming years for the product.

Fortescue has already announced plans in Queensland for a plant to build the electrolysers to make hydrogen (including green hydrogen) and a separate plant in Brisbane to make green ammonia with Incitec Pivot at Gibson Island.

Plans have also been announced for green hydrogen production for NSW (an estimated $US3 billion in the PR blurb), including a $US1 billion green hydrogen power station.

In an address to the National Press Club in Canberra last month, Forrest said Fortescue Future Industries had secured 300 gigawatts of renewable resources in Africa, Australia, Asia, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America and New Zealand – over four times Australia’s current capacity,” to produce green hydrogen or ammonia or a mixture.

In Argentina, Monday’s report said Fortescue is looking at developing the project in Río Negro province (in the south, on the edge of Patagonia and in an environmentally sensitive area) with a view to producing green hydrogen on an industrial scale.

“It is expected to turn Río Negro into a global green hydrogen export hub by 2030,” the government said. “It is the most important international investment for our country in the last 20 years.”

Agustin Pichot, the Latin America head of Fortescue Future Industries, the mining firm’s green energy unit, said in a press conference alongside government officials that the project would be one of the company’s most important worldwide.

“We signed a memorandum of understanding a few months ago and today we are talking about an investment of around $8 billion,” he said, Reuters reported.

FFI will carry out analysis on local resources as well as wind availability, which it uses as the main energy source to power production to see if renewable energy production is viable. Then public consultations and other work for construction would begin.

A $US1.2 billion pilot stage aiming to produce 35,000 tons of green hydrogen is planned for 2022-2024, before a $US7.2 billion first productive stage aiming for an output of some 215,000 tons of green hydrogen – enough to power 1.6 million homes, the statement said.


About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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