Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), a division of Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue), one of the world’s top resource and energy companies, has announced a partnership with NREL for the Fortescue Colorado Innovation Center, a research and development facility for FFI Worldwide’s green hydrogen in Colorado.
The goal of FFI, a global green energy firm, is to produce green hydrogen with zero emissions from 100 percent renewable sources.
The initial period of cooperation between NREL and FFI will be three years, but FFI anticipates investing $80 million over a period of ten years in research projects with NREL. As a result of this alliance, more than 350 jobs could be created in Colorado.
And that work starts right now, as the first FFI team members are settling in to work with NREL on a first set of projects, including a significant water electrolysis R&D program, to support FFI’s electrolyzer manufacturing endeavor. The first FFI team members arrived in Colorado in early 2023.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) H2@Scale vision, which envisions clean hydrogen as a key element of a clean, sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective energy system, is supported by the hydrogen research conducted by NREL. This vision covers all areas of hydrogen research, including production, transportation, storage, and application.
FFI executives claimed that one reason they went with NREL was the country’s fertile ecosystem, particularly that of Colorado. Along with working with NREL and establishing its U.S. center, FFI also plans to create connections with top research institutions and colleges around the country, including the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, and others. The decision of FFI to relocate to Colorado was also backed by the extensive hydrogen research capabilities and experience developed at NREL via its decades-long partnership with and funding from DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Division.
Moreover, hydrogen serves as an energy storage medium and can be used to deploy and utilise renewable electricity on a wider scale. It is even suitable for long-term seasonal storage.
The main issues facing hydrogen are related to price, scale, toughness, and manufactureability. Researchers at NREL have been looking for ways to get over these obstacles, along with those at other national laboratories and partner organizations.
There is still work to be done to reduce the cost of hydrogen on a large scale, despite the fact that the cost of renewable energy is declining while the price of fossil fuels is rising. Costs for large-scale clean production are currently $5–$6/kg or more. In order to open up new markets for clean hydrogen, such as steel production, clean ammonia, energy storage, and zero-emission heavy-duty trucks, DOE’s Hydrogen Shot effort aims to cut the cost by 80% to $1/kg hydrogen in ten years.