Australia’s biggest energy investors — including iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest — are backing dozens of hydrogen projects spanning the nation, betting the clean technology can spur an export opportunity eventually rivalling the country’s fossil fuel revenues.

Mr Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, has pitched Australia as a world leader in a $US12 trillion ($15.5 trillion) global hydrogen industry if the right policies are put in place. He discussed his vision for creating a hydrogen economy at length with Scott Morrison in a private briefing at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek mine last Thursday night.

The billionaire has a bold ambition to turn the iron ore miner into one of the biggest green energy producers. He’s pushing ahead to fund privately a giant power station in NSW’s Port Kembla part fuelled by hydrogen while Fortescue has established a new future industries arm targeting a hydrogen-powered ammonia plant in Tasmania.

The state’s Bell Bay hub also has attracted Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy as potential investors.

Seven hydrogen hubs will be created under the Morrison government’s blueprint spanning Western Australia’s Pilbara through the industrial heartlands of NSW’s Hunter Valley, Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and South Australia’s Whyalla. The hubs aim to crystallise billions of dollars of investment pledged by high-profile ASX-listed companies, private investors and some of the biggest international energy names.

“Fortescue Future Industries is advancing projects across Australia including in the Pilbara and Tasmania to build large-scale renewable energy and green hydrogen production capacity,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines told The Australian.

“We welcome the announcement of investment in clean hydrogen projects by the Morrison government, which recognises the critical role green hydrogen will play in the global energy transition. This will expedite the substitution of green hydrogen and green ammonia for carbon-based fuels and provide a new long-term export opportunity for Australia.

“These projects will, with the support of the Australian government, contribute to a significant reduction in national carbon emissions.”

Australia is pinning its hopes on a slew of hydrogen hubs and carbon capture projects — backed by some of the nation’s biggest renewable investors, including Mr Forrest — as part of a technology-led solution to reach net-zero emissions. Canberra has set a goal for Australia to ­become a global hydrogen player by 2030 and a top-three ­exporter of the fuel to the Asian markets.

In WA’s Pilbara, best known for its lucrative iron ore reserves, one of Australia’s biggest green projects is being built. The Asian Renewable Energy Hub — a $US36bn proposal that will dwarf every other renewable energy project in the country — aims to build one of the world’s biggest large-scale green hydrogen projects.

Renewables developer CWP Global, with partners including Macquarie, aims to create cleaner fuels in Australia and as an export earner, sending ammonia supplies to Japan and South Korea.

The Morrison government wants to develop a new export industry responsible for 8000 jobs and $11bn of extra income by 2050.

A green hydrogen hub announced on Tuesday proposed for WA’s Gascoyne region and led by French giant Total Eren is one of several on the cards as foreign investors flock to the technology.

The Japanese government also has invested in a hydrogen supply chain project in Victoria’s LaTrobe Valley while Origin Energy has inked plans to build a giant hydrogen export plant in Townsville backed by Japan’s Kawasaki.

Carbon capture and storage also has attracted funding as part of the government package.

Extracted in full from: Hydrogen hubs to fuel a green energy bonanza (