Andrew Forrest has launched a searing attack on the oil and gas sector and Australian Government’s favoured low emissions technologies, hinting a national net zero target is needed to galvanise the energy sector to take real action on climate change.

He has also accused energy companies of using colour coded hydrogen as a ‘smokescreen’ to keep their oil and gas assets in production as the world shifts towards renewables.

“Blue, yellow, pink, grey hydrogen is not renewable green hydrogen, they are made from fossil fuels, and studies now confirm they are more carbon emitting than if they were simply burnt as fossil fuels,” he said, comparing technologies favoured by the Morrison Government like blue hydrogen and carbon sequestration as being like ‘healthy smoking’.

“That is why the fossil fuel sector has quickly flipped to using a colour code and the new term `clean hydrogen’, this has as much accuracy as ‘clean coal’ or ‘healthy smoking’ — and don’t get me started on the smokescreen of sequestration,” he said.

“The most recent argument that hydrogen made from fossil fuel — where carbon emissions have attempted to be sequestered buried in the ground — is the new green is false.”

“Regardless of the success of sequestration – it normally fails – there are huge carbon emissions emitted in its process anyway. If it’s not renewable green don’t be fooled by any other coloured spin.”

In his wide-ranging keynote speech for the Clean Energy Council this morning, the Fortescue Metals Group founder said his new Fortescue Future Industries arm has set an ambitious target to become a hydrogen production and export powerhouse by producing 15Mtpa of green hydrogen by 2030 and ramping up to 50Mtpa.

That would make FFI comparable, Twiggy said, to some of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies.

He said driving the investment to reach “net zero” in Australia would require ambitious ‘stretch targets’ like those employed at FFI, suggesting a national direction was needed to galvanise industry to act.

“Net zero for Australia is simply one big project, a compilation of national and State projects driven by businesses who are most motivated,” he said.

“To crystallise that motive the nation needs a target.

“While renewable green hydrogen is not the only answer to get us there, it will make the biggest difference and allow the Australian Government to confidently state a national target of 2050 net zero.

“Giving us that target allows success to be driven by business and I, for one, will work tirelessly to lead that change.”

Forrest said Australia had a big opportunity to grab a share of a hydrogen market which could be as big as US$12 trillion by 2050, dwarfing the scale of its $150 billion a year iron ore export industry.

Negative commentary from Forrest about the oil and gas sector became the talk of the town ahead of the APPEA Conference in Perth in June, prompting blowback from the industry against the mining magnate.


Renewable hydrogen to enter WA gas supplies by late 2022

Gas supplier ATCO says it is on track to help the WA Government blend renewable sourced hydrogen into the State’s extensive gas network by the end of next year.

ATCO says at 2500 connections it will be the largest blending project of its kind in the nation, with the State aiming to have a 10 per cent hydrogen blend across the network by 2030.

ATCO has been awarded $2 million from WA’s Renewable Hydrogen Fund to support the project, having produced WA’s first renewable hydrogen at a trial level in 2019.

“Initially, the blending will use renewable hydrogen produced at ATCO’s existing Clean Energy Innovation Hub,” ATCO managing director Patrick Creaghan said.

“As blending extends further into the network, and in higher concentrations, in the coming years it’s anticipated this investment will further spur the growth of the renewable hydrogen industry.

“This includes ATCO’s proposed Clean Energy Innovation Park, recently supported by ARENA and currently in development in Western Australia’s mid-west.”

WA Hydrogen Minister Alannah MacTiernan said blending would reduce emissions from household gas use and build a demand base for green hydrogen going forward.