The Anonymous Widower

Fortescue And E.ON To Supply Europe With Green Hydrogen

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Fortescue Future Industries Pty Ltd. of Australia and E.ON SE, energy giant from Germany, have teamed up to supply green hydrogen to Europe. This strategy is meant to help the EU to reduce its reliance on Russian energy.

These are other points from the article.

  • FFI intends to supply five million tonnes of hydrogen per year by 2030.
  • The hydrogen will be produced by renewable hydrogen in Australia.
  • E.ON will handle the distribution.
  • Five million tonnes is about a third of Germany’s energy imports.

I have some further thoughts.

How Much Energy Is Needed to Produce Five Million Tonnes Per Year Of Hydrogen?

In Can The UK Have A Capacity To Create Five GW Of Green Hydrogen?, I said the following.

Ryze Hydrogen are building the Herne Bay electrolyser.

  • It will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power.
  • It will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

The electrolyser will consume 552 MWh to produce ten tonnes of hydrogen, so creating one tonne of hydrogen needs 55.2 MWh of electricity.

55.2 MWh/tonne is 55.2 kWh/kg.

To produce five million tonnes of hydrogen will need 55.2 * 5.000,000 / 10 MWh.

  • This is 27,600,000 MWh or 27,600 GWh.
  • It works out at an average of 75.6 GWh per day or 3.15 GWh per hour.

This article on vox is entitled The Economic Limitations Of Wind And Solar Power, where this is said.

“Capacity factor” refers to how often a power plant runs and thus how much power it produces relative to its total potential (capacity). Nuclear power plants in the US run around 90 percent of the time, so they have a 90 percent capacity factor. On average, the capacity factor of solar ranges anywhere from 10 to just over 30 percent. For wind, it ranges from 20 to just over 50 percent, averaging around 34 percent in the US.

If FFI is using solar to generate electricity in Australia, I suspect that the capacity factor will be around twenty percent at best.

So will FFI need around 16 GW of solar power to satisfy the supply to Germany?

The Wikipedia entry for Solar Power In Australia gives a good insight into its capability of providing the 16 GW of energy needed. This statement is key.

Using solar to supply all the energy needed would use less than 0.1% of land.

It does look that Australia could provide Germany with some of the hydrogen it needs.

Would It Be Cheaper To Produce The Hydrogen In The North Sea?

This is probably heresy to Andrew Forrest, who is the Australian billionaire behind Fortescue Future Industries.


  • North Sea Hydrogen could be piped to Germany.
  • Australia and Germany would probably need transfer by liquid hydrogen tanker.
  • Electrolysers would need to be used to create hydrogen from renewable energy in both Australia and the North Sea.
  • Floating wind farms in the North Sea could be more efficient than solar in Australia, as the capacity factor is higher.

We obviously won’t know until both wind and solar technologies are fully developed.

Will There Be Price Competition Between Australian And North Sea Hydrogen?

It does appear that Andrew Forrest believes in research and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his company developing ideas that drop the price of solar-produced hydrogen.

Research and good engineering on both sides will also drop prices, so I suspect price competition will occur.

Will Fortescue Future Industries Develop North Sea Hydrogen?

Given the ambition being shown by Andrew Forrest to be the Hydrogen King, I wouldn’t be surprised if he joined the streams of international investors in the North Sea, who are developing wind farms.


Go! Aussie! Go!



April 2, 2022 - Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I don’t think I’ve ever come across an organisation so committed to the future as Fortescue, never could a company have announced so many non-legally binding ‘agreements’ as Fortescue; why in the last 6 months there must have been at least two , maybe three Memorandums of Undertaking each month and then there’s the reinvention of regenerative braking; they’re so clever.
    More seriously many of the points you make about Australian versus locally produced hydrogen are well made even if Australian data illustrates a more positive level for capacity factor than you have assumed.
    One thing that does concern me is the state of technology concerning the transport of liquified hydrogen and the general cost/energy efficiency of conversion.
    It’s easy to announce MoU’s, it’s more difficult to deliver on those announcements, an opinion recently echoed to me by an Australian who has far experience of Fortescue than I have.

    Comment by fammorris | April 3, 2022 | Reply

    • If it all starts to work out for Fortescue, like any disruptive innovator, he will get imitators.

      One thing we will see within the next few years is gigawatt-scale electrolysers. I can see them floating around in giant offshore floating wind farms, sending their hydrogen to existing gas terminals like Bacton, though pipelines that already exist.

      It just so happens that Bacton has two gas interconnectors to Belgium and The Netherlands.

      This must surely be a more efficient way for Germany to get its hydrogen.

      Note that many of the current generation of electrolysers use PEM technology and are effectively stacks of thousands of small electrolysers.

      I have this image in my mind of a scientist working away in their lab, who has an idea for a much larger and more efficient electrolyser that can handle a GW. Let’s hope they succeed.

      There’s certainly a lot of research going on.

      Comment by AnonW | April 3, 2022 | Reply

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