Ground has broken on an electrolyser manufacturing facility that when complete will be the world’s largest and will help to unlock green hydrogen potential and establish Queensland and Australia as a major player green hydrogen player.

In its latest announcement, Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary Fortescue Future Industries says it has commenced construction on a $114 million ($US83 million) electrolyser facility at its planned Green Manufacturing Centre (GEM) in Gladstone in Central Queensland.

Once complete early next year, the first electrolysers to be manufactured at the facility will have an initial capacity of two Gigawatts per annum.

This will more than double current global production capacity and be sufficient to produce more than 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen each year.

The produced hydrogen will be used at FFI’s proposed green hydrogen ammonia plant at Gisborne Island.

Beyond that, FFI is targeting green hydrogen production of 15 million tonnes by 2030 – the equivalent to removing 60 million diesel fuel cars off the road.

The investment represents the first stage of FFI’s plans for GEM to emerge as a green manufacturing hub.

Further stages will be delivered in specialist production lines according to the needs of FFI and its customers. These could include the manufacture of wind turbines, high-voltage electric cabling, solar photovoltaic cells, modules and arrays, and associated renewable energy infrastructure.

The commencement of construction comes as hydrogen has emerged as a key part of the Australian Government’s plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

In 2019, the Government published a strategy to establish the nation as a major hydrogen industry player by 2030.

As a flexible, safe, transportable and storable fuel, hydrogen can be used to power vehicles as well as to generate heat and electricity.

Electrolysers like the ones to be manufactured at the new centre are needed to extract the hydrogen from water using a process known as electrolysis.

Provided that the electrolyser itself is powered by renewable energy, this process does not produce any carbon emissions.

Forrest said the new centre will help to spearhead Queensland’s green hydrogen ambitions.

“The GEM will become an epicentre for Queensland’s green hydrogen ambitions, building on Gladstone’s skilled workforce and great foresight in industrial master-planning including a world class port,” Forest said.

“The world is moving on from fossil fuels and the green industrial revolution is underway. Fortescue Future Industries’ game changing electrolyser facility in Gladstone is putting Queensland at the centre of this revolution, which is creating an entirely new industry and thousands of multi-generational jobs for Australians.”

The electrolyser factory is a 50-50 joint venture (subject to approvals) between FFI and US green technology firm Plug Power.

More than 100 jobs will be created during construction whilst the facility will have up to 50 permanent jobs along with several hundred other ongoing jobs that will support the local supply chain.