Iron ore billionaire and green energy champion Andrew Forrest says hydrogen made from fossil fuels is part of the climate and energy problem, not the solution.
Speaking from Barcelona after the European Commission announced a plan to cut the region’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, the Australian businessman said green hydrogen, green ammonia and green energy are the only sustainable solution.
Mr Forrest said the fossil fuel industry has highly effective campaigns to promote hydrogen made by burning coal and gas as clean, when “it is in fact highly polluting and therefore dangerous to humanity”.
“The fossil fuel industry must stop greenwashing,” he said.
He was concerned research released this week shows four out of five Australians do not realise “clean hydrogen” spruiked by the industry, and as defined by the federal government, can be made from fossil fuels and contentious carbon capture and storage technology.
The new Green Hydrogen Standard published this week at the first Green Hydrogen Assembly, attended by Mr Forrest, has established an international framework for hydrogen made from renewable resources.
Fortescue Future Industries support this new green standard and are building the world’s largest electrolyser plant in Gladstone, Queensland, as part of a new manufacturing hub to be powered by wind, solar and batteries.
The European Commission announced a “massive scaling-up and speeding-up of renewable energy in power generation, industry, buildings and transport” to break the reliance on fossil fuel imports from Russia.
Accelerating the transition, the commission also proposes an increase in the 2030 renewable energy target from 40 per cent to 45 per cent.
Mr Forrest welcomed the body’s REPowerEU plan, particularly policy, infrastructure and financial support for green hydrogen, including a type of funding called contract for difference, or CFD, that can help innovators survive unprofitable phases in developing new things.
There will be guidance on renewable energy and power purchase agreements and the EC will provide a technical advisory facility with the European Investment Bank.
The plan also includes a goal of 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10 million tonnes of imports by 2030, to replace natural gas, coal and oil in industries and transport.
“We believe this target must be more ambitious, however this is a good start,” Mr Forrest said.
His new electrolyser facility will have an initial capacity of two gigawatts per year, more than doubling current global production, and enough to produce more than 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen each year.
FFI is targeting the production of 15 million tonnes of green hydrogen a year by 2030, which is the equivalent of taking 60 million diesel cars off the road this decade.
“The only green ‘clean hydrogen’ is green hydrogen, made from renewable resources,” Mr Forrest said.