The new 2GW electrolyser factory unveiled last week by Australian iron-ore billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest will actually be a 50/50 joint venture with US manufacturer Plug Power, it was announced today (Thursday).

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Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries had revealed that it would start construction of its Green Energy Manufacturing Centre in Queensland, Australia, in February, with 2GW of electrolysers due off the production line in early 2023 — followed by large-scale manufacturing of wind turbines, solar panels and electrical cables at the same site.

The news had immediately raised questions as to whether FFI had designed its own electrolysers or would license technology from a third party.

Today, Plug Power revealed that its equipment would be manufactured at the gigafactory, which would actually be a 50/50 joint venture with FFI.

The plant would be Plug Power’s third gigafactory. The company already has a 1GW electrolyser/fuel cell factory in New York state, and only last week announced that it would build a second such factory in South Korea as part of a joint venture with that country’s SK Group conglomerate.

“As part of the agreement, the two organisations intend to build a two gigawatt factory to produce large-scale proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers, with the ability to expand into fuel cell systems and other hydrogen-related refueling and storage infrastructure in the future,” Plug Power said in a statement.

“Plug Power will supply the electrolyser and fuel cell technology and FFI will contribute advanced manufacturing capabilities. FFI will be the primary customer of the products manufactured by the joint venture, enabling its ambitions in decarbonising its operations with stationary power and mobility applications running on green hydrogen.”

As part of the deal, FFI will also buy 250MW of Plug Power electrolysers for its Australian projects, which will be imported from the New York facility.

“Australia and New Zealand will be a big market opportunity for our green hydrogen ecosystem of electrolysers, fuel cells, and green hydrogen,” said Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh. “This year, we will do megawatts of deployment in these markets, and gigawatts in the coming years.”

FFI CEO Julie Shuttleworth added: “We have enough solar and wind in Australia to power many countries of the world. Working together with Plug Power, we can create this future.”

The agreement is still “subject to the parties’ mutual agreement on the relevant terms and conditions”, the companies’ statement said.

A move into moving hydrogen

At the same time, Plug Power announced it had “executed a definitive agreement” to acquire Texas-based Applied Cryo Technologies (ACT), a provider of technology, equipment and services for the transportation, storage and distribution of liquefied hydrogen, oxygen, argon, nitrogen, liquefied natural gas and other cryogenic gases.

“The acquisition of ACT will provide Plug Power with a host of efficiencies and capabilities, including liquid hydrogen delivery network and fleet [sic]; liquid hydrogen storage; and hydrogen mobility fuelling, which is particularly important for ports,” the company said.