Queensland’s role as a global leader in the manufacture of renewable hydrogen has taken another big step forward with manufacturer Incitec Pivot reaching an agreement with Fortescue Future Industries to study the feasibility of green ammonia production.
The feasibility study will assess whether industrial scale manufacturing of green ammonia at Gibson Island is technically and commercially feasible on an existing brownfield site.
It is to investigate building a new water electrolysis facility on the site to produce around 50,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year, which would then be converted into green ammonia for Australian and export markets.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said momentum was building in Queensland’s quest to becoming a renewable hydrogen superpower.
“Yesterday we announced we’re building the world’s largest electrolyser manufacturing plant in Central Queensland which is crucial for making hydrogen,” the Premier said.
“Today Fortescue Future Industries and Incitec Pivot have committed to a joint feasibility study into conducting a green hydrogen and green ammonia production and export facility right here at Gibson Island.
“Queensland has an exciting future as a global powerhouse for the production of renewable hydrogen and renewables products and I want to thank Incitec Pivot and FFI for committing to this study.
“By backing Queensland to become a renewable energy and hydrogen superpower we will make Queensland a manufacturing superpower as well which will create and sustain jobs long into the future.
“We are seeing an industrial green revolution taking place in Queensland, and it will happen in Australia and throughout the world.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles welcomed the announcement.
“We’re committed to growing Queensland’s hydrogen industry for the employment, investment and overseas export opportunities it will bring to our state,” Mr Miles said.
“This emerging industry will have enormous economic benefits and today’s announcement is further evidence of industry confidence in Queensland.”
Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick said the agreement highlighted the Palaszczuk Government’s focus on creating an environment conducive to business opportunities.
“Today it’s Incitec Pivot and FFI in Brisbane – last month it was Boeing and the Wagner Corporation at Wellcamp,” the Treasurer said.
“The common thread here is the confidence that businesses have in Queensland to get the deal done.
“This is another confidence-boosting moment for the State and further evidence of Queensland’s strong position as the place to invest in a low-carbon export future.”
Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said if this feasibility study stacks up, it will allow the establishment of a large-scale green ammonia export facility at lower cost and in a shorter timeframe than many other locations around the world.
“That’s exactly the kind of leadership position our Queensland Hydrogen Industry Development Strategy is aiming to achieve,” he said.
“Three years ago we stepped in to support 400 ongoing jobs at this facility by securing local gas supply and now this partnership to work towards making ammonia from renewable hydrogen positions these industrial manufacturing jobs for the long-term.
“Under our Queensland Jobs Fund we’ve committed $2 billion to grow renewable energy and hydrogen jobs and provide a strong competitive advantage to Queensland businesses to attract investment in green manufacturing.”
Incitec Pivot has billions of dollars invested in Queensland fertiliser and explosives plants and employs 1,200 people across five sites. The company recently completed an $80 million capital upgrade of the Gibson Island plant in early 2020 on the back of Queensland Government facilitation.
Incitec CEO Jeanne Johns said the study was a crucial step in contributing to Australia and Queensland’s potential as a green ammonia powerhouse.
“We’re excited to partner with FFI who are committed to producing zero-emission hydrogen from 100 per cent renewable sources.
“The combination of FFI’s drive to develop a globally competitive green hydrogen industry, and our leadership and technical skills in ammonia production, will play an important role in developing Australia’s capability in this growing international market,” Ms Johns said.
He said the partnership was considered one of Australia’s best near-term opportunities to produce green ammonia at an industrial scale.
Gibson Island plant currently produces more than 300,000 tonnes of ammonia each year.
“If feasible, this project would sustain highly skilled manufacturing jobs at Gibson Island and allow us to leverage our existing capabilities and assets to create a thriving renewable hydrogen ecosystem in Queensland,” Ms Johns said.
The Gibson Island plant is Queensland’s largest consumer of gas for local manufacturing.
The three‑year gas supply agreement has protected the jobs of more than 400 workers reliant on that plant.
Fortescue is Australia’s third biggest miner and its chair and biggest shareholder is Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.
Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) is a global green energy and product company committed to producing zero-emission green hydrogen from 100 per cent renewable sources.
FFI is a developer, financier and operator investing in zero-emission resources to produce renewable energy at a scale equal to the oil and gas super majors.
Its vision is to make renewable green hydrogen the most globally traded seaborne energy commodity in the world.
Preliminary results from the feasibility study are expected to be available at the end of the year.