“Now is the time to move” for mining companies to switch from coal to green hydrogen, Dr Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals told Al Arabiya.
Meeting the company’s target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 will lower operating costs and increase margins, Forrest added.
The Australian company produced 2.2 million tons of scope one and two emissions in 2021 – a result of fuel burned directly by Fortescue, and of energy purchased.
Its scope three emissions, produced from indirect sources such as waste and transportation, reached 250 million tons in that same timeframe.
Forrest acknowledged “that this is a really serious problem… but therein lies the fabulous opportunity” to switch to using green hydrogen rather than coal.
“There are two ways to make steel, to reduce iron ore to iron and therefore make steel from it: One is with the dirty, polluting, global warming medium of coal, and the other also generates an enormous amount of heat, reduces iron ore directly to iron so you can make steel, and that’s hydrogen,” he said.
Forrest went on to say: “If it’s hydrogen made from purely green sources, you can put that into your furnaces, you turn your iron ore into iron just as efficiently, you generate heat just as efficiently, but all that comes up your chimney is water, pure water, as opposed to carbon dioxide and other pollutants which come from coal.”
The chairman also cast doubt on the viability of carbon capture programs, which aim to reduce carbon emissions by redirecting them from being emitted into the atmosphere, to being stored underground.
He claimed that many who swear by the practice are in fact “greenwashing” governments and the public into believing that their practices are more environmentally friendly than they actually are.
“I think they should feel really serious shame that they’ve used carbon credits and other facilities to greenwash to say they’re doing the right thing when they’re not,” he said.
On the question of infrastructure to support the adoption of hydrogen fuel, Forrest likened the adoption of new technology to the invention of the combustion engine.
He said: “The internal combustion engine was able to save London from being smothered by horse manure when they just couldn’t do anything about horse manure, they needed to get transport around London but unfortunately horses emit manure.
“Now, along came the internal combustion engine. It took a while to get in, just like the fossil fuel sector took a long while to actually go from the greasy tar in the sand to actually a refined fossil fuel, it took many, many decades. Every great technology has its own time. And technology changes massively.”
He went on to say: “So now is the time to move. We have the technology, we have the energy. We have the political will. We have the capital. Let’s go.”
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