The largest hydrogen equipment facility will be built in central Queensland in a $1bn project Annastacia Palaszczuk declared was “as significant as getting the Olympics”.
The Premier spruiked Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries manufacturing plant as the next step to transform Queensland into a renewable energy superpower.
She said the facility, to be based in Gladstone, was also a major coup for industry development given the direct creation of more than 300 jobs and thousands more in the future.
The plant will be the largest hydrogen electrolyser producer in the world, a product that uses electricity to break water into hydrogen and oxygen to generate power supply.
“We’re seeing growing interest globally in renewable hydrogen,” Ms Palaszczuk said during the announcement on Sunday.
“We don’t just want to export our resources – we want to develop a manufacturing industry capable of making the electrolysers in Queensland as well.”
Mr Forrest, a mining magnate and clean energy philanthropist, said the first stage of the six step project will cost Fortescue Future Industries $115m.
“This is a breakthrough for both Queensland and Australian green energy,” he said.
“It’s one thing to start a solar farm or a wind farm and plug it into a city or a factory and have the ratepayers pay for it.
“It’s entirely another to replace all those imports – everything that’s being made overseas – to with manufacturing for electrolysers, wind turbines and towers, solar farms, photovoltaic cells, long distance cabling switchgear, everything.”
The billionaire said the “first step that the world needs most” and to evolve Australia into a renewable energy base is to build the electrolysers.
“This two gigawatt facility doubles the world’s current capacity,” Mr Forrest told reporters.
“It is just the start of what we need to deliver for Australia, which is over 150 gigawatts between now and the end of this decade. So we’re talking to a very large future we see here, just in the electrolyser plant alone.”
Mr Forrest, whose massive wealth was accumulated as an iron ore miner, has become a leading voice and investor in clean alternatives through the recently created green energy branch of his empire, Fortescue Future Industries.
He said his PHD studies in the last five years left him “utterly convinced” the rate of climate change taking place could lead to “runaway global warming”.
“Before we get to that tipping point, we have got to make sure we never get near it,” he said.
“I am convinced there’s thousands of times more energy available to the Anthropocene than we’ll ever need.
“And it’s all green. It’s all new. The world absolutely can, and therefore must move on from a polluting future.”