In today’s Exponential Investor

  • The best speech on clean energy I’ve heard
  • The potential to create more revenues than any industry ever
  • The era of clean energy is upon us

Last year, iron ore billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest attended a formal dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

There, he listened assiduously to a group of major oil and gas company CEOs explaining just how hard it was going to be to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to avoid rising temperatures.

Forrest, Australia’s second-richest person, didn’t like what he heard.

“I decided I was not going to leave the world to these clowns,” he told The Australian Financial Review.

Forrest got to work.

While most of the world was in pandemic lockdown, Forrest and a team of 50 staff spent most of the second half of last year criss-crossing the globe, visiting more than 40 countries and holding private discussions with sovereign leaders, politicians, business people and investors.

After the talks, he was certain of the direction of travel.

“It made me strongly, and no longer hesitantly, optimistic,” he told Guardian Australia. “I felt a change in the global mood, a shift in belief, that the impossible could be possible.”

The experiences both at Davos and during his subsequent meetings around the world strengthened Forrest’s fortitude to hasten the path of Fortescue Metals Group, the iron ore mining company he founded 18 years ago, on a pursuit of green energy, in general, and green hydrogen, in particular.

But it’s even possible Forrest is now on path to an outcome that, if delivered, could entirely transform the energy landscape worldwide.

In November, Forrest announced that Fortescue Metals Group would aggressively support zero-emissions energy through its new green arm, Fortescue Future Industries.

After initially pledging to back 235 GW of clean energy capacity across the globe, Forrest subsequently announced upgraded plans to produce the world’s lowest cost green hydrogen and green ammonia via a potential pipeline of 1,000 gigawatts of renewable energy assets such as hydro, geothermal, wind and solar.

That’s a fifth of the minimum of 5,000 GW of pure green energy that Forrest estimates the world will need to really slow the climate crisis.

The Australian mining magnate has made green hydrogen, created using renewable energy, the centrepiece of his plans, believing it will change energy systems much faster than some analysts believe is possible.

The best speech I’ve heard on clean energy

Why am I telling you this?

Well, last month Forrest detailed his plans in a talk aimed to herald “massive change” and it’s perhaps the best speech I’ve ever listened to on green energy.

Speaking at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday 24 March, Forrest said the green hydrogen market had the potential to create revenues of more than $12 trillion by 2050, “more than any industry which ever existed today.”

“I hope you’re going to remember this evening as the heralding of massive change, which you can invest in, you can be part of, or you can watch happen around you. But it will happen,” Forrest said.

“We see the future of energy as hydrogen. I think our greatest natural resource is no longer iron ore, it isn’t gold, it isn’t oil, and it’s certainly not coal.”

“The question is not whether green hydrogen will become the next global energy form, it’s just a question of by whom. …Who will mass produce, have a ship leaving the port every half an hour on a scale of the greatest energy companies in the world?”

“Which company would be that strong, that we could allocate sufficient risk to test green hydrogen at global industrial scale? Last year the board and I at Fortescue Metals Group decided that would be Fortescue.”

Forrest assured the audience that by 30 June this year, Fortescue’s green hydrogen plans would go up several gears. Fortescue has pledged to begin producing green hydrogen at commercial scale as early as 2023.

“We’ll develop green iron ore, trains, we’ll run our trucks on renewable electricity. Our ships will begin the transition to green ammonia, and this financial year, at least five years ahead of our competition, we will put green ammonia into a …ship’s engine, one which will allow that really dirty fuel, Bunker C oil, to finally be extinguished, to not pollute the world’s oceans,” Forrest said.

“I’m saying to you with absolute certainty, the green energy future and the green product future is upon us. There will be a huge green steel industry. There will be a huge green fertiliser industry. There will be a huge green energy industry, and it’s up to you to choose where you want to be in that. Or if you want to stay with fossil fuels.”

If you’ve read about the recent falls in the market and want some extra reassurance that clean tech is a sensible place to park some of your risk capital, then you could do worse than listen to Forrest yourself.

It’s only 35 minutes long and it’s truly inspirational.

As Forrest says, change is certain.

The era of clean energy and green hydrogen is upon us.

Until next time,

James Allen
Editor, Exponential Energy Fortunes