Andrew Forrest, the billionaire chairman of Australian mining group Fortescue Metals, and former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have formed an international body to promote the use of green hydrogen made using renewables over other forms of H2 and battle what they call “colour-coded spin”.
“Our greatest natural resource isn't iron ore, it isn't gold, it isn't gas, it's certainly not oil or coal, it is green hydrogen,” Forrest claimed.
The Green Hydrogen Organisation (GH20) has a small international secretariat with presence in London, Geneva, Perth and Sydney. Its chief executive is Jonas Moberg.
While the association’s official launch will only take place in a couple of weeks, Recharge has already seen the new outfit’s brochure.
In it GH20 advocates clearer boundaries between green hydrogen made using renewables, and supposedly ‘clean’ H2 as a by-product from the fossil fuel sector, such as blue hydrogen, which is made from fossil gas linked to carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Green hydrogen needs its own organisation to represent it at a global level, GH20 says in its mission statement, as it requires a fundamentally different set of policy settings and investment decisions to fossil fuel hydrogen.
The competition between green and blue hydrogen heated up this week when the UK presented its national hydrogen strategy, stressing a “twin-track” approach to support both green and blue hydrogen.
The conflict between green and blue H2 also led to the resignation of the chair of the UK Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (UK HFCA), Christopher Jackson, who stepped down because he could no longer support blue hydrogen.
The EU and its largest member, Germany, in their hydrogen strategies haven’t excluded blue H2 either, but made clear that they only see it as a limited and temporary bridge technology.
GH20 co-founder Forrest in a speech at a Clean Energy Council webinar in this week lobbied for Australia to set a target for green hydrogen as a means to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
“This is our last chance to slow, then stop, the planet cooking. I am not in the doomsday business; I’m an optimist, and I am in the solutions business. My answer is renewable green hydrogen,” Forrest said.
“The answer isn't to stop mining iron ore, which is critical to the production of steel, and to humanity. The answer is green zero-emissions energy to make all iron ore and steel.”
Forrest accused the oil & gas sector of preying on public hope by “allowing the colours of the rainbow and calling it clean hydrogen, which of course, being made from fossil fuels, it is anything but.”
Blue hydrogen through the CCS process can filter out some 95% of the CO2 from fossil gas, but never all of it. Green hydrogen made via electrolysis from renewable power and water, by contrast, is 100% CO2-free. Forrest also pointed to huge carbon emissions occurring during the process of sequestering CO2.
“If it is not renewable green, don’t be fooled by any other colour-coded spin. Any other colour than renewable green is dirty hydrogen.”
The metals businessman also said his Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) subsidiary plans to produce 15 million tonnes of renewable green H2 per year by 2030, a volume planned to increase to 50 million tonnes per annum at a later stage.
Forrest is no stranger to announcing gigantic plans.
The mining tycoon late last year said he wants to tap “trillions of dollars” of available capital to transform his company into one of the world’s largest renewables and green hydrogen players with a 235GW operating base.
GH20 plans an International Hydrogen Summit in May 2022.
International chairman Turnbull also wants to create a ‘green hydrogen charter’ by rallying governments and other stakeholders to share good practices in enabling rapid private sector growth in producing and using green hydrogen.
Forrest and Turnbull also have aligned business interests. The former PM was made the chairman of Fortescue's renewables arm earlier this year.