Australia could become to green hydrogen what Saudi Arabia is to oil, according to a senior executive at a German energy and utilities giant.
Patrick Lammers is the chief executive of E.ON, which in March signed a draft agreement with Fortescue Metals Group that will see the two companies work together to supply 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2030.
Visiting Australia this week to view existing Fortescue operations and discuss green hydrogen plans, Mr Lammers said Australia was in a unique position to be a global green energy giant because of its favorable climate with plenty of wind and sun, space for scale and stable politics. environment.
He said if Australia could harness green electrons to power its mining industry, it could produce green iron ore and ultimately green steel.
“It would completely outperform the market, especially in Europe where a carbon tax is not that far away,” he said.
“Now we have an energy crisis, but that crisis will somehow subside and this (a carbon tax) will happen.
“If Australia pulls it off, pulls itself together and incentivizes the industry…you could be the new Saudi Arabia exporting green hydrogen.”
Mr Lammers said that Saudi Arabia had a lot of oil, which no one would use in the future, and a lot of sunshine, but they did not have the same rule of law, the same democracy and the same stability of political systems.
He said Europe had learned a valuable lesson from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that it was unwise to rely on a dictator (Russian President Vladimir Putin) for its energy needs.
A former Shell executive and former chief executive of the Dyson Group, Mr Lammers said he was not surprised by the energy crisis on Australia’s east coast.
While saying he was reluctant to comment specifically on the Australian situation, Mr Lammers said Europe had experienced its “fair share of crises” due to constantly changing governments, a lack of planning and perspective. short term.
Essen-based E.ON operates one of the world’s largest investor-owned electricity utility providers, with 50 million customers in 30 countries.
Mr Lammers said he was confident that Fortescue could achieve its goal of producing commercial quantities of green hydrogen by 2030 and exporting it, based on what he had seen during his visit to Australia.
“We believe the economy can work very well, and we are determined to make it work,” he said.
Mr Lammers said he believed green hydrogen would be produced and used commercially in Europe within two years, with electrolyzers already being built in the Netherlands and Germany.