Billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) is planning to build a 15GW green hydrogen project in Argentina, it was announced at COP26.

The $8.4bn Pampas facility in the windy northern Patagonian province of Río Negro would be the first renewable hydrogen project in the country, as well as the largest yet announced in Latin America.

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Average wind speeds in the province of more than 10 metres per second are among the highest onshore anywhere in the world, rivalling those seen in the North Sea, where capacity factors can exceed 50%. The higher the capacity factor of the renewable energy supplying power to electrolysers, the cheaper the green hydrogen produced.

FFI plans to switch on a $1.2bn pilot phase with 600MW of electrolysers in 2024, followed by a second 1.4GW stage, before reaching 15GW by 2030 — producing 2.2 million tonnes of renewable H2 per year. The company will carry out wind speed tests before committing to the project.

The Australian company, a subsidiary of Forrest's iron-ore company Fortescue Metals Group, has said it wants to produce 15 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2030, and 40 million by 2040, and is due to build a 2GW electrolyser factory in Queensland with partner Plug Power.

Argentine production minister Matias Kulfas said it would be the largest international investment in the country in the past 20 years.

The deal was announced after Australian mining magnate Forrest and President Alberto Fernandez met on the sidelines of the UN climate change conference in Glasgow.