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ATCO and Fortescue team-up to accelerate hydrogen transport

Published by
Michael Mazengarb

ATCO and resources giant Fortescue Metals Group will partner in a new trial of hydrogen vehicles as part of the company’s operations.

The two companies say they will cooperate in the establishment of a combined hydrogen production and refuelling station at an ATCO facility in the Perth semi-industrial suburb of Jandakot.

The hydrogen refuelling facility will allow Fortescue to undertake a trial of hydrogen fuelled vehicles, including Totoya’s Mirai fuel-cell passenger vehicle.

The refuelling facility will initially operate from the Perth location, but project partners will look for opportunities to deploy the technologies into other parts of Western Australia.

The project hopes to receive funding under the Western Australian government’s Renewable Hydrogen Fund and is awaiting the final decision on funding.

Fortescue, which  is a leading Australian producer of iron ore and other metals, and recently committed to building a 150MW solar plant and a big battery to provide day-time power to its huge Pilbara mining operations,

said that it had joined the project as a partner to ensure the resources company remained engaged with emerging technologies and industries.

Fortescue has previously underwritten trials of autonomous vehicles for use at the company’s mining operations in Karratha.

“As the world moves towards a lower carbon future, hydrogen has the potential to play a key role in the future energy mix and we want to ensure we remain at the forefront of Australia’s renewable hydrogen industry,” Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines said.

“Identifying and establishing partnerships is critical to unlocking the future potential of hydrogen and we look forward to working with ATCO to capitalise on the economic opportunities associated with hydrogen and support the development of a competitive hydrogen industry.”

Western Australia has been recognised as a high potential site for the development of a renewable hydrogen industry, as the state has access to high quality wind and solar resources, as well as established hubs for gas extraction, processing and export.

Several substantial wind and solar projects have been proposed for Western Australia, with a goal of supplying affordable power to an eventual hydrogen export industry.

This includes a proposed 5,000MW wind and solar project which as received the backing of electrolyser manufacturer Siemens and a separate 15GW wind and solar project backed by Vestas, Macquarie Group and CWP.

Toyota will serve as a key vehicle partner in the project, supplying its hydrogen fuelled Mirai sedan as part of the demonstration project.

“The agreement between ATCO and Fortescue demonstrates a clear commitment to hydrogen energy in Australia and this emerging economic sector,” Totoya Australia’s Matt MacLeod said.

“This partnership sets a strong foundation to support the introduction of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles into Australia and we look forward to exploring the opportunities that will develop in the future.”

ATCO has previously established the Clean Energy Innovation Hub at the Jandakot site, which serves as a demonstration of both the production of renewable hydrogen, as well as its potential use as an energy storage medium, its uses in residential households and its ability to be blended with the mains gas supply.

The hydrogen vehicle project will help expand the hub’s applications, to demonstrate the ability for hydrogen to be used as a zero emissions transport fuel.

“ATCO’s Clean Energy Innovation Hub (Hub) has been generating and testing the use of renewable hydrogen for more than six months in gas blending and power applications. The Hub provides a fantastic base from which to partner with Fortescue to contribute to Western Australia’s burgeoning renewable hydrogen industry,” ATCO managing director Pat Creaghan said.

“We look forward to working with Fortescue capitalise on Western Australia’s natural advantages for the benefit of the environment, the economy and the community.”

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