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Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries plans to build the world’s largest electrolyser, renewable industry and equipment factory at Gladstone.

FFI expects to invest “up to or in excess of $1 billion” in the project as orders firm for electrolysers and other green industry equipment.

The first stage of the development, announced by FFI and the Queensland Government on Sunday, is expected to cost up to $114 million to bring online, with the first electrolysers scheduled for production in early 2023.

FFI will build the plant at Aldoga within the Gladstone State Development Area with an initial capacity to manufacture up to two gigawatts (GW) of electrolysers annually.

It is initially expected to create 120 construction jobs and 53 operational jobs, with jobs numbers to exceed 300 over the life of the project.

Construction will begin in February 2022, pending final approvals.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the partnership between FFI and the State Government would see Gladstone become a world-leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers – vital to the production of renewable hydrogen.

“This project will put Gladstone on the map as a world leader in the renewable-hydrogen supply chain,” she said

FFI said the Global Green Energy Manufacturing Centre (GEM) would be the first step in a series of projects that would continue to transform regional Australia through green industry manufacturing and energy production centres.

GEM will be delivered in specialist production lines according to the requirements of FFI and its customers, including the manufacture of wind turbines, long-range electric cabling, solar photovoltaic cells, electrolysers and associated infrastructure.

Stage one of the six-stage project will establish Australia’s first multi-gigawatt-scale electrolyser factory, with an initial capacity of 2 gigawatts (GW) per annum – more than doubling current global production.

Fortescue also plans to establish its first Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) in Queensland at GEM, in addition to Trade Up and Leadership and Excellence programs.

FFI chairman and founder, Dr Andrew Forrest said, “As GEM develops according to FFI’s own requirements and other customer needs, manufacturing will come roaring back to regional Australia, creating many thousands of jobs.

“Fortescue is again ahead of the curve and we are immensely proud to be pioneering a Global Green Energy Manufacturing Centre in Gladstone.

“This initiative is a critical step in Fortescue’s transition from a highly successful pure play iron ore producer, to an even more successful green renewables and resources powerhouse.”

Queensland’s other recent hydrogen industry initiatives include the formation of a consortium, which includes generator Stanwell and Japan’s largest hydrogen supplier Iwatani, proposing to export $4.2 billion in renewable hydrogen from Gladstone.

Sumitomo Corporation has also formalised its partnership with Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council, CQUniversity Australia and Australian Gas Infrastructure Group to develop Australia’s first hydrogen ecosystem in Central Queensland.

In Townsville, the Queensland Government is working with Sun Metals on their immediate plans to use hydrogen in their refinery operations and trucking fleet and their ambitions to move zinc refinery operations to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2040.

Hydrogen export facilities are also being investigated at a large number of Queensland’s ports including the Port of Gladstone, Port of Townsville and Port of Hay Point, south of Mackay.

Image: FFI chairman and founder Dr Andrew Forrest with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Gladstone.