Fortescue helps Germany swap Russian gas for hydrogen

Dr Andrew Forrest AO (AAPowerLink)
Fortescue Future Industries' Dr Andrew Forrest

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has signed an MoU with Germany’s largest energy group, E.ON, to explore shipping green hydrogen to Europe and to help it wean off Russian gas, Reuters reported.

The agreement with Fortescue will look at ways to ship up to 5 million tonnes of hydrogen generated from renewables to Europe per year by 2030, the two companies said in a statement.

Related article: Work begins on Fortescue’s Gladstone electrolyser

That roughly corresponds to one third of the heating energy Germany imports from Russia each year, or 165 terawatts of capacity, Fortescue chairman Andrew Forrest said. Overall, Russian gas accounted for 55 per cent of German imports of the fuel last year.

“Green energy will reduce fossil fuel consumption dramatically in Germany and quickly help substitute Russian energy supply, while creating a massive new employment intensive industry in Australia,” Forrest said.

The companies did not disclose the volume of investment that was needed to realise the project, which hopes to bring green hydrogen generated via wind and sun in Australia by ship to Europe from as soon as 2024.

“The agreement between E.ON and Fortescue Future Industries is a major step forward and puts them in pole position for the delivery of green hydrogen to German industry,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement.

Related article: Fortescue and Airbus join forces to decarbonise aviation

Germany is desperately trying to diversify away from Russian gas but faces challenges replacing it, with Habeck saying last week that will not happen before summer 2024.

The country aims to build a world-leading hydrogen industry but the technology remains too expensive for the time being.

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