Hydrogen boost for UK as new facility opens

Australian green energy and metals company Fortescue has opened a new research facility which will become the base for the development of a range of new hydrogen battery technology.

The company has opened the new state-of-the-art technical innovation centre in Kidlington, Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom with the aim driving a new breed of green power.

The facility will focus on the technical development, testing and prototype production of batteries and zero emission powertrains for a wide range of applications, including motorsports, mining haul trucks, and other off-road and automotive applications. It will exclusively develop and produce batteries for the first generation of Extreme H, a new motorsports series beginning in February 2025.

Fortescue WAE is already the battery provider for the Extreme E Series, The Extreme H car will use a similar powertrain used in Extreme E. The chassis has been improved to address the safety requirements associated with the use of hydrogen. The key differentiating factor in Extreme H will be that a hydrogen fuel cell combined with a smaller battery will replace the larger battery as the principal means of on board energy storage (H2fuel/battery).

Fortescue executive chairman and founder, Andrew Forrest, (above pic) said: “This new technical innovation centre in Kidlington will not only drive the leading edge of decarbonised motorsports, but also lead the way to decarbonising heavy industry as well.”

“Fortescue bought Britain’s best racing battery maker not only to help decarbonise our own operations, but to help other businesses to adopt zero emission technologies as well, and cement UK as a green technology and manufacturing leader.”

Among the first batteries produced at the Kidlington site, will be those used to power Fortescue’s prototype 240 tonne mining haul trucks in Australia.

The company said the battery system, which is currently being tested onsite in the Pilbara, is integral to Fortescue’s $6.2 billion decarbonisation strategy to help eliminate fossil fuels from its terrestrial iron ore operations, which includes replacing its existing diesel-fuelled fleet with battery electric and green hydrogen powered haul trucks.

Fortescue WAE CEO, Judith Judson, (pic) added: “Today marks the latest milestone in the evolution of Fortescue WAE into a global zero emission technology solutions and manufacturing company.”

“Fortescue and other companies need the battery and green technology solutions that will be manufactured here at Kidlington, to decarbonise their operations. The world can’t afford for businesses to wait, so we are showing them that moving to zero emission solutions and away from fossil fuels is not only possible but can be profitable as well.”

“The knowledge we have learned from racing is applied to everything we do, including our mining haul truck battery systems and other electric powertrains. It is what sets Fortescue apart.”

The opening came as Fortescue announced it has been selected to begin award negotiations as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) development of the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub, which in total is estimated to receive up to $1 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding.

The selection also enables Fortescue to work in partnership to establish the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub, which includes Fortescue’s proposed green hydrogen production facility in Centralia, in Washington.

Fortescue’s project in Centralia, is planned to be sited on a remediated coal mine adjacent to Washington’s last coal-fired power plant, scheduled to retire permanently in 2025.

“The proposed facility will produce green hydrogen at scale for use locally in the Pacific Northwest in heavy-duty transportation, grid reliability, maritime, industrial processes, and other hard-to-abate sectors,” the company added.