Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest sent warning over hydrogen energy plan by Saul Griffith

A climate evangelist has sent a direct warning to Australia over a billionaire’s plan to make a fortune off hydrogen, warning it’s not going to work.

MIT-trained Saul Griffith says Andrew Forrest’s plan to use solar power to create hydrogen from water, as well as his intention for that hydrogen to replace petrol in cars and coal in steel making, is not feasible.

“We do not have a viable technology for green steel,” Mr Griffith told the AFR‘s Energy Summit.

“Green hydrogen is not going to temper any domestic emissions this decade.”

Griffith accused Forrest’s Fortescue of signing “fake contracts” for hydrogen which might not be delivered to European companies who purchased it, including German energy group Eon.

Forrest has denied previous accusations the contracts were a PR stunt.

“They have asked for 5 million tonnes and they are going to get it,” he told the AFR in July.

Griffith’s belief is that using renewable energy to make hydrogen would not be as cost-effective as using wind and solar on their own.

Fortescue would produce electricity between four and six times’ more expensive than energy straight from the renewable source itself, according to Mr Griffith’s maths.

“We have drunk the Kool-Aid and we’re about to squander a decade,” he said.

Mr Griffith is one of the largest nay-sayers in the hydrogen debate, backed by his experience of building a hydrogen tank technology company used to make hydrogen cars.

“If hydrogen works, I will make more money than all of you because I built the hydrogen tanks that all of the world’s automakers have licensed,” he said.

“I have shot large-calibre bullets into hydrogen tanks in the desert, I have watched them explode.

“I have owned two hydrogen cars; it was the scariest, most horrible experience of my life.

“I feel qualified to say a lot about hydrogen. I understand the physics and thermodynamics.”

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