Fortescue announces 1 GW solar PV module factory in Australia


From pv magazine Australia

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Australia-based iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group, said this week that it has purchased a majority stake in High yield Energy Technologies (HyET) Group, which includes solar PV module manufacturing company HyET Solar among its assets.

In addition to the stake acquisition, FFI has also agreed to provide a majority share of financing for a planned expansion of HyET Solar’s solar PV manufacturing plant in the Netherlands. The Dutch company, which manufactures flexible solar modules, has plans to ramp up the production capacity of its Powerfoil technology to 900 MW peak by the end of this year.

Fortescue Future Industries CEO Julie Shuttleworth said that FFI will also look to establish a solar PV module manufacturing facility in Australia. She said the lightweight Powerfoil modules are suitable for high-volume areas, such as utility-scale solar farms, as well as high-value segments such as building-integrated PV.

Shuttleworth said the project has already commenced, but she did not provide any additional details about the proposed manufacturing facility. “We have commenced the design study for a 1 GW Powerfoil factory in Australia and at this scale, we aim to rapidly drive costs down at a greater rate than is achievable with conventional solar PV technology,” she said.

If built, the facility will dwarf the operations of Australia’s only existing solar PV module manufacturer, South Australia-based Tindo Solar. Tindo, which is set to soon commence operations at a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, has confirmed that production capacity at the AUD 11 million ($8 million) plant will be 150 MW per year.

Shuttleworth said the acquisition of HyET, which also includes HyET Hydrogen among its assets, marks an important milestone in FFI’s vision to produce affordable green hydrogen. It aims to supply 15 million tons of green hydrogen throughout the world by 2030.

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“FFI’s goal is to become the world’s leading, fully renewable energy and green products company,” she said. “The addition of HyET Solar and HyET Hydrogen to our portfolio of FFI companies builds on our commitment to develop technologies needed to tackle emissions and global warming.”

Fortescue Chairman Andrew Forrest has previously revealed ambitious plans to build one of the biggest renewable energy portfolios in the world, by delivering more than 235 GW of renewables capacity.

“We are building a portfolio of renewable assets, energy-producing assets around the world,” he said.

Forrest said the HyET acquisition will help to fast-track FFI’s wider ambitions to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2030.

“Green energies need to be available at an industrial, global scale. We don’t have time to wait, we have to act now,” he said. “The technologies of the HyET companies will help us reach that tipping point and the world will begin the journey in earnest to become zero-carbon.”

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