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Green hydrogen gives Australia an opportunity to slash our emissions & if we get it right, the impact could be nothing short of nation-building, argues businessman Andrew Forrest in Boyer Lecture.

Source : PortMac.News | Street :

Source : PortMac.News | Street | News Story:

Boyer Lecture : Twiggy 'green hydrogen possible climate fix'
Green hydrogen gives Australia an opportunity to slash our emissions & if we get it right, the impact could be nothing short of nation-building, argues businessman Andrew Forrest in Boyer Lecture.

News Story Summary:

Andrew Forrest, CEO of Fortescue Metals delivers his Boyer lecture:

The Boyer lectures are traditionally lectures — a speaker lecturing Australia about what it should do.

I've chosen a different path.

This is about what I'm doing to fight climate change, under the premise that actions speak louder than words.

But first I have a confession to make.

The iron ore company I founded 18 years ago, Fortescue, generates just over two million tonnes of greenhouse gas every year.

Two million tonnes — that's more than the entire emissions of Bhutan.

It's also just 0.004 per cent of the greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere every year — around 50 billion tonnes.

The answer isn't to stop mining iron ore, which is critical to the production of steel and to humanity.

The answer is green iron ore and steel — made using green, zero-emissions energy.

If the world's renewable energy resources were a power station, the plant would be millions of gigawatts in size. To put that into perspective, Australia produces all of its electricity from just 70 gigawatts.

There's enough pollution-free, renewable energy out there to power humanity for the entire Anthropocene. That's the age of humans, just as the Mesozoic was the age of dinosaurs.

But the markers of our era won't be Tyrannosaurus teeth or asteroid craters. They'll be giant landfills of single-swig, plastic water bottles, effectively fossils the moment they're made.

We have no idea how long the Anthropocene will last. But if we don't stop warming our planet, it will be geological history's shortest era.

Hydrogen offers us a colossal opportunity

The solution is hydrogen.

Hydrogen is the most common element in existence. In fact, the universe is 75 per cent hydrogen by mass — so we'll never run out of it.

It's also the simplest.

To make it, all you need to do is run electricity through water.

That's green hydrogen, the purest source of energy in the world — and one that could replace up to three quarters of our emissions, if we improve the technology and had the scale.

But right now, we don't use it for energy. It's "just" an ingredient used in industrial processes. And we make it from fossil fuels, quaintly calling it "grey" hydrogen, to hide the fact that it's a pollutant.

"Green" hydrogen — the good stuff — is virtually ignored by the economic world.

We're missing a colossal opportunity. The tricky part is transporting it, but we are cracking that.

The green hydrogen market could generate revenues, at the very least, of $US12 trillion by 2050 — bigger than any industry we have now.

And Australia, with characteristic luck, is sitting on everything it needs to be the world leader, but only if it acts fast.

The journey to replace fossil fuels with green energy has been moving at glacial speed for decades but is now violently on the move.

In the last year, China, Japan and South Korea have together pledged to put almost 8 million hydrogen fuel cell cars on the road.

Boris Johnson, who once wrote that wind power "wouldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding", has invested 12 billion pounds in green energy, and, more importantly, banned the sale of all fossil fuel engines by 2030.

Even Australia, which declined to commit to a zero emissions target, is investing $300 million in hydrogen.

Europe has allocated a trillion Euros to reach zero emissions by 2050 — while the US has pledged $US2 trillion.

And almost every major business in the world has committed to net zero emissions by 2050, including Australian companies marching ahead of government.

Catching up before it's too late

These are laudable and genuine ambitions. But if we wait until 2050 to act, our planet will be toast.

We're already way behind schedule.

The science says that to keep things halfway normal, we need to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. The science also says that to do this, we need to slash our emissions every year between now and 2030.

Because as of today, we're heading for a 3 degree rise.

That's how science works. You can predict it.

There's only one solution, and it'll require businesses to work closely with governments.

Green energies need to be available at an industrial, global scale — and at a price that competes with fossil fuels.

When fossil fuel energy becomes more expensive than renewable energy, that's when we'll reach the tipping point. That's when the world will begin the journey in earnest to become zero-carbon.

Not only because it's the "right" thing to do, but because it makes great sense.

And the shift will be lightning fast. Forget 2050 — zero emissions will begin to happen overnight.

That's how capitalism works. You can predict that too.

Steel is fundamental — and it can be green

The board and I decided that Fortescue would be that first mover.

Since then, we have locked in almost 300 gigawatts of power, almost four times what Australia can produce.

We have targeted hydro-electricity, generated by rivers, and geothermal, which taps into the heat from the Earth's core, because these renewables work around the clock — unlike solar or wind, which we are also relying on.

Our final aim is 1,000 gigawatts of zero-emissions energy.

Most of the world's iron ore formed roughly 3 billion years ago, when organisms first evolved the ability to make oxygen.

The oxygen reacted with iron, sinking to the bottom of the ocean and creating the rich deposits in the Pilbara we have today.

Ironically, this ancient event is what's allowing us to modernise.

Steel is fundamental to everything you see around you, from your home, to your car, the roads you drive on.

But right now, Australia makes barely any of that steel. We just dig up the iron ore, process it and export it.

For Twiggy's full article, Click ABC logo below.

Story By | Andrew Forrest

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