Australian iron company Fortescue Metals Group has opened a technical innovation center in Kidlington in the UK, with an initial focus on the technical development, testing and prototype production of batteries and zero-emission powertrains.
The US$23m site will be home to 300 employees, with up to 50 more jobs to be created across the next year, and will focus on the testing and production of batteries and powertrains for a wide range of applications, including motorsports, mining haul trucks, and other off-road and automotive applications.
Fortescue’s chairman and founder, Dr Andrew Forrest, said, “This new technical innovation center in Kidlington will not only drive the leading edge of decarbonized motorsports, but also lead the way to decarbonizing heavy industry as well.”
The Kidlington facility, located on the Oxford Technology Park, will exclusively develop and produce batteries for the first generation of vehicles for Extreme H, the hydrogen-powered spin-off of Extreme E, beginning February 2025.
Fortescue WAE already provides batteries for Extreme E Series. The company states that the Extreme H car will retain the same powertrain and chassis used in Extreme E, but with the addition of a hydrogen fuel cell combined with a smaller battery, instead of the larger battery as the principal energy source.
Among the first batteries produced at the Kidlington site will be those used to power Fortescue’s prototype 240 metric ton mining haul trucks in Australia.
The battery system, which is currently being tested on-site in the Pilbara, is integral to Fortescue’s US$6.2bn decarbonization strategy to help eliminate fossil fuels from its iron ore operations, which includes replacing its existing diesel-fueled fleet with battery electric- and green hydrogen-powered haul trucks.
Fortescue WAE CEO Judith Judson said, “Today marks the latest milestone in the evolution of Fortescue WAE into a global zero-emission technology solutions and manufacturing company.”
The Kidlington site will have the capacity to produce and test up to 500 prototype battery systems per year with a total production capacity of 50MWh/annum.
“Fortescue and other companies need the battery and green technology solutions that will be manufactured here at Kidlington, to decarbonize their operations. The world can’t afford for businesses to wait, so we are showing them that moving to zero-emission solutions and away from fossil fuels is not only possible, but can be profitable as well,” Judson added.