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ASX-listed Fortescue has cut the ribbon on its $23-million technical innovation centre in the UK.

The Kidlington facility will focus on the technical development, testing and prototype production of batteries and zero emission powertrains for a wide range of applications, including motorsports, mining haul trucks, and other off-road and automotive applications.

The site will employ 300 highly skilled workers, with up to 50 more jobs to be created across the next year.

The facility will exclusively develop and produce batteries for the first generation of Extreme H, a new motorsports series beginning in February 2025. 

Fortescue WAE is already the battery provider for the Extreme E Series, The Extreme H car will use a similar powertrain used in Extreme E. The chassis has been improved to address the safety requirements associated with the use of hydrogen. The key differentiating factor in Extreme H will be that a hydrogen fuel cell combined with a smaller battery will replace the larger battery as the principal means of on board energy storage (H2fuel/battery).

“This new technical innovation centre in Kidlington will not only drive the leading edge of decarbonised motorsports, but also lead the way to decarbonising heavy industry as well,” Fortescue executive chairperson and founder, Dr Andrew Forrest said.

“Fortescue bought Britain’s best racing battery maker not only to help decarbonise our own operations, but to help other businesses to adopt zero emission technologies as well, and cement UK as a green technology and manufacturing leader.” 

Among the first batteries produced at the Kidlington site, will be those used to power Fortescue’s prototype 240 t mining haul trucks in Australia. 

The battery system, which is currently being tested onsite in the Pilbara, is integral to Fortescue’s $6.2-billion decarbonisation strategy to help eliminate fossil fuels from its terrestrial iron ore operations, which includes replacing its existing diesel-fuelled fleet with battery electric and green hydrogen powered haul trucks.

Fortescue WAE CEO Judith Judson said the opening of the facility marks the latest milestone in the evolution of Fortescue WAE into a global zero emission technology solutions and manufacturing company.

“Fortescue and other companies need the battery and green technology solutions that will be manufactured here at Kidlington, to decarbonise 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.” 

“The knowledge we have learned from racing is applied to everything we do, including our mining haul truck battery systems and other electric powertrains. It is what sets Fortescue apart.” 

The Kidlington site is co-located on the Oxford Technology Park and will have the capacity to produce and test up to 500 prototype battery systems per year with a total production capacity of 50 MWh/annum. 

The facility allows Fortescue to expand electrification capability to support the growth of the business and the drive for green tech and zero emissions.