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Australian miner unveils big solar ambitions

Fortescue Metals has revealed ambitious plans to build one of the biggest renewable energy portfolios in the world, with more than 235 GW of capacity, or five times the current capacity of Australia’s National Energy Market.

From pv magazine Australia

Fortescue Chairman Andrew Forrest unveiled a new renewable energy strategy for the miner this week.

Forrest said the company’s Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) unit would challenge global energy majors such as Chevron and BP as an energy producer.

“We are building a portfolio of renewable assets, energy-producing assets around the world,” he said.

FFI will finance, develop and operate renewable energy projects, including green hydrogen and ammonia plants. Fortescue executives have already visited 23 countries to shortlist partners and plan to visit 24 more as they look to secure deals. Forrest said preliminary agreements have already been signed in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

“As each project rolls in we will be considering them on their merit and where we establish markets as we did for Fortescue, where we establish independent financing secured only against the assets, exactly like we did with Fortescue, then we will go ahead and finance and develop those projects,” he said. “With scale and innovation, we will be able to ramp up supply of green hydrogen and green ammonia to deliver low-cost energy reliably at industrial scale to customers all over the world.”

Forrest said the company’s initial target would be to have 235 GW of installed energy capacity. By comparison, BP plans to produce 50 GW of renewable energy by 2030, but has yet to provide a timeline.

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“After scientific and personal analysis of the renewable energy resources of our little planet I can assure you that there is more than enough renewable energy to sustainably and economically supply every person on this planet from this time forth,” Forrest said.

“It is our job to respectfully use these readily available renewable resources and supply the world’s fuel and power at sufficient scale to satisfy the need for abundant, cheap, zero pollutant energy.”

Fortescue has committed to be carbon neutral by 2040. It has invested heavily in the transition to renewables, including the Pilbara energy project, which includes 150 MW of solar PV and large-scale battery storage. The company is also moving into green hydrogen in its mining operations, with plans to replace its fleet of diesel-fueled vehicles with hydrogen-fueled alternatives.

Forrest said he wanted to put Fortescue at the forefront of the coming “stampede” into renewable and green hydrogen and ammonia production.

“We know that if we’re going to meet and hit the Paris targets, we’re going to need a 70% reduction in carbon emissions,” he said. “I see that once we can create sufficient renewable energy and renewable fuels where — like the oil and gas sector – we can guarantee reliability of supply at volume and scale, there will be a veritable stampede into renewable energy and green industries.”

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Source: pv magazine