Washington hydrogen fuel plant could get a shot in the arm from Australian company

Washington hydrogen fuel plant could get a shot in the arm from Australian company

May 20, 2022 0 By Erin Kilgore

Fortescue Future Industries is examining the opportunity at a property next to a coal power facility soon to close.

Fortescue Future Industries, a company from Australia, is looking into a property located next to a Centralia, Washington coal power facility that will soon be closing, with the intention of building a large hydrogen fuel plant.

The company announced its intention at a recent Economic Alliance of Lewis County-hosted H2 symposium.

Fortescue Future Industries is a clean energy subsidiary of Fortescue Metals Group, an iron ore mining giant from Australia. The company has been making a large number of announcements regarding its ambitious global green hydrogen plans.

Paul Browning, President of Fortescue North America, stated that the property the company is considering for its own hydrogen fuel plant is immediately next to the TransAlta coal energy facility that will soon be closing down.

Hydrogen fuel plant - Coal fired plant

According to Browning, there are many reasons that the company considers that particular location to be appealing for its project. Of those reasons, one of the most important is that there will soon be a workforce coming available to fill the renewable energy jobs it will be creating, since the coal facility will close. Moreover, the land also has substantial water rights and connection to both rail and power.

The location has a great deal to offer a hydrogen fuel plant that would be built and operational soon.

“It’s going to be on the site of a retired coal mine,” said Browning in a recent fuel tech interview. “So, we’re going to turn a place that used to make the dirtiest fossil fuel into a place that is going to make the cleanest, green fuel — green hydrogen.”

The open-pit TransAlta coal mine shut down in 2006. The coal-fired power station adjacent to it is the last of its kind still in operation in the Pacific Northwest. That said, it will be shutting down in 2025. According to Browning, the final decision to begin building a hydrogen fuel plant there would be made in 2024, with intentions to begin operation two years later in 2026.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” said Browning while speaking at the symposium attendees, referring to the availability of the 120-person workforce from the coal facility to move over to the green energy company.

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