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Title:An Australian mining magnate wants to save the planet with green hydrogen

DENVER - As the leader of one of the world’s biggest and most invasive iron ore mining operations, Andrew Forrest has done more to propel global warming than some small countries.

The Australian billionaire expresses few regrets about his company and its partners having pumped millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, or the bitter legal conflicts with Aboriginal officials over ecological destruction allegedly committed by his firm, Fortescue Metals Group. He prefers the label “heavy industrialist.” Don’t call him a “greenie.”

Yet as the world reaches an energy inflection point, Forrest is now a point man for audacious climate action, with his sights set on the United States. He is betting the future of his $34 billion company on a plunge into “green hydrogen,” a superfuel theoretically capable of powering jet planes, large machines and even electricity plants without any carbon footprint.

The head winds are fierce. Hydrogen gas is made by separating water molecules, and producing it typically requires massive amounts of climate-unfriendly natural gas. So far, no one has been able to make affordable hydrogen fuel produced entirely with renewable sources of energy. It requires too much wind or solar power to be practical for mass production. Scientists are racing to change that, with Forrest placing a huge wager on their success bringing green hydrogen to market quickly.

Forrest says he will make 15 million tons by 2030, a scale and pace others doubt. The billionaire boasts he will erase fossil fuels from Fortescue’s operations and supply huge quantities of the new fuel to others.

“Some are arguing that the technology we need to beat global warming is not with us yet,” Forrest said as a black SUV zipped him from his penthouse suite at the Denver Ritz-Carlton earlier this fall to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is collaborating with him. “I say that is completely false. The most optimal technologies...

Organization:Washington Post - Climate and Environment
Date Added:11/24/2022 6:37:35 AM