Fortescue Metals Group’s green investment division has agreed to buy the battery and technology arm of the Williams Formula One racing team for £ 164 million.
The Australian mining group has said it will use the battery systems and electrification technology acquired by Fortescue Future Industries to meet its target to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Andrew Forrest, the billionaire founder and chairman of Fortescue, told the Financial Times that the deal represents the “first merger of heavy industries with hyper-advanced electrical technology” and that he entered into the agreement after the mining company “sought the world for battery technology. has”. . ”
He said electrification and battery expertise would add a third point, along with green hydrogen and ammonia energy, to a new strategy and business is able to reduce the carbon emissions of heavily polluting industries, including mining and transportation.
Fortescue plans to use the new systems to adapt its 3km long freight trains, heavy industrial equipment and trucks to reduce emissions at its mining sites, Fortescue said.
The first major project will be an electric “infinity train” concept, Fortescue said, which is expected to become a significant development in the green industrial transportation sector.
Williams, one of the most famous names in motor racing, was sold to the US fund in 2020 Dorilton Capital for € 152m in what was seen as an acknowledgment that the team could no longer compete with better-funded competitors such as Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz.
The team was founded in 1977 by Sir Frank Williams and was successful, winning 16 drivers ‘and constructors’ championships in the 20 years to 1997. before finishing eighth out of 10 teams in the most recent season.
The Williams Advanced Engineering division, which employs 250 people, was established to support the development of better engine technology.
The unit has also focused on saving energy for out-of-racing companies. Williams worked with Unilever to strip energy consumption from its soap manufacturing processes. It has also adapted aerodynamic models used for the rear wings of its cars to reduce the amount of power needed for supermarket refrigerators.
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The unit worked with miners, including Anglo American and Fortescue, on fuel cell technology. Forrest hopes the acquisition could help fossil fuel companies make the green transition.
“When you try to move away from oil and gas and coal you find obstacles everywhere,” he said.
He expects to keep the Williams team in Wantage, the company’s leafy Oxfordshire base, and that the battery engineers will remain “inextricably linked” to the racing side of the business.
“Their challenges on the track are our challenges in the world,” he said. “It’s great to win a Formula One race, but we’re all in a race. . . against climate change. ”