Twiggy pokes blue hydrogen, CCS

FORTESCUE Future Industries chairman Dr Andrew Forrest has used a speech to the Clean Energy Council to take another swipe at the proponents of blue hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.
Twiggy pokes blue hydrogen, CCS Twiggy pokes blue hydrogen, CCS Twiggy pokes blue hydrogen, CCS Twiggy pokes blue hydrogen, CCS Twiggy pokes blue hydrogen, CCS

FMG and FFI chairman Dr Andrew Forrest

Mark Tilly

Journalist

Mark Tilly

In a pre-recorded speech to the CEC's Infinite Australia talk on Tuesday, Forrest said the public should not be fooled by claims from government and industry that hydrogen made from gas could be part of a clean energy future. 

The Morrison government, backed by research from the CSIRO, has argued that hydrogen production derived from gas, where the emissions are either captured or offset, is a credible pathway to decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors in the short-to-medium term, while the cost of hydrogen produced via electrolysis, or green hydrogen, comes down. 

However, in his speech this morning Forrest unashamedly attacked these claims, arguing that vested interests are simply using it as a delaying tactic to extend the life of coal, oil and gas. 

"The oil and gas sector are using the colours of the rainbow to call it clean hydrogen, but by it being made from fossil fuels, it is anything but," he said. 

"This has as much accuracy as 'clean coal' or 'healthy smoking'. And don't get me started on the smokescreen of sequestration." 

He pointed to the peer-review study released last week, which concluded that blue hydrogen combined with CCS was more emissions intensive than if the hydrogen was just produced using standalone fossil fuel sources, thanks to fugitive emissions from the gas used to power pumping of CO2 underground. 

"Studies now confirm blue hydrogen and CCS are more emitting, they emit more than if we were just burning fossil fuels," he said.  

Forrest, via his energy arm, Fortescue Future Industries, aims to use hydrogen and ammonia generated from renewable energy aims to decarbonise its parent company's operations by 2030 and become a renewable energy major in its own right. 

The chairman reiterated FFI's target of producing 15 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2030, and up to 50MMtpa after that.

Last month, FFI confirmed it had been able to use renewable hydrogen and ammonia to power drill rigs, haul trucks and locomotives. 

Forrest said this morning that the key to it being able to achieve this was his hallmark targets and stretch-goals, once-again calling on Canberra to set a net-zero emissions by 2050 target. 

"Australia reaching net zero is one big project, driven by the businesses that are most determined," he said. 

"The nation needs a target and while renewable green hydrogen is not the only way to get there, it will make the biggest difference - giving us that target will give us the success and it will drive that change." 

Forrest said he expected industry to put up a fight against his work, but he would persevere, nonetheless. 

"The fossil fuel sector will react by slashing the cost of oil and gas to almost zero, there will be some very tough moments." 

"It will be critical for those with vested interests to put forward false solutions using so-called clean hydrogen."

Some commentators attacked Forrest for hypocrisy as his other company, Squadron Energy, looks to build the Port Kemba LNG terminal in NSW. There is also the issue that the mining company proper is one of the largest users of diesel in the state for its mine sites. 

PKIT has yet to reach a final investment decision, but Forrest has been adamant that the terminal will be designed to run off both gas and hydrogen at a later date. 

Yesterday, Boiling Cold reported that Squadron has dumped its 80% stake in WA's unconventional Kimberly permit EP499.

Squadron and partner Goshawk had planned a six-year A$3.75 million work program of seismic surveys and two exploration wells, however, a Squadron Energy spokesperson said the company continuously reviewed its investments to ensure they aligned with its climate policy. 

The permits were within the 2% of the state where fraccing is allowed, after the moratorium was lifted in 2018. However majority partner Goshawk may continue the work. 

With FFI's plans to generate large scale power the gas Squadron initially formed in for may not be needed for power generation. 

"As part of this ongoing review, Squadron Energy has made the strategic decision to exit from our limited Canning Basin permits," the spokesperson told Boiling Cold.

"This process is in advanced stages."