The energy crisis in Europe presents a huge opportunity for Australia to export more green energy, the chief financial officer at Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) said on Thursday.
European nations are pushing to boost renewable energy resources amid an energy crisis to move away from Russian gas. Countries are also looking for ways to cut energy consumption and fill their gas stores in preparation for cooler weather and any cut-off of Russian supplies.
“There is a huge opportunity for us to export green energy into Europe … They are absolutely demanding it,” said Guy Debelle, chief financial officer at Fortescue Future Industries, at the Citi Annual Investment Conference in Sydney.
Fortescue Metals Group and green-energy unit Fortescue Future Industries are trying to develop infrastructure and technology to produce green hydrogen as the miner shifts from a pure-play iron ore producer to a green energy company.
Fortescue signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany’s largest energy group E.ON earlier this year to explore shipping green hydrogen.
“European governments generally, and the German government in particular, (are) pushing really hard and throwing a lot at it because of the situation they find themselves in with the energy crisis and their dependency on Russian gas,” Debelle said.
“There’s plenty more E.ON’s out there across Europe. So there is a large demand for green energy,” he said.
Australia, however, risks being left behind if it does not get support from the government, he said.
The introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) by the United States this year, for instance, “turbo-charged” the market with subsidies for the cost of green energy, he said.
Europe is also bringing legislation that offers incentives for the use of green hydrogen, he said.
“The risk (for Australia) is that we could have the rug pulled out from under us if other countries get there first.”
(By Praveen Menon; Editing by Tom Hogue)