Fortescue investigates repurposing US coal mine for green hydrogen production


The proposed Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) green hydrogen production plant would enable the decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors of the North American economy and support the development of a Pacific Northwest green hydrogen hub, potentially creating hundreds of new local jobs.

The Centralia coal-fired power plant adjacent to the IPAT project site is scheduled to close in 2025. Subject to the outcome of the feasibility studies, FFI’s intention would be to seek to employ the existing coal workforce for the proposed project, facilitating a transition into the emerging green energy economy.

Green hydrogen is a zero-carbon, zero-methane fuel and unlike other types of hydrogen it does not require the burning of fossil fuels in the production process.

FFI chairman and founder Dr Andrew Forrest said, “FFI’s goal is to turn North America into a leading global green energy heartland and create thousands of green jobs now and more in the future.

“Repurposing existing fossil fuel infrastructure to create green hydrogen to power the world is part of the solution to saving the planet.

“The signing of this agreement is another important step in turning the corner once and for all, to implement the technologies carbon emitters need to reach net zero.”

FFI has been working with the Lewis County Energy Innovation Coalition and Lewis Economic Alliance to undertake due diligence efforts on the project to date.

Richard DeBolt, executive eirector of the Lewis Economic Alliance said, “With the closing of the coal mine and the scheduled retirement of the Centralia coal-fired power plant, IPAT was formed to redevelop the site and attract investment that will support well-paid, long-term employment opportunities in the region. FFI’s potential project represents the opportunity to do just that.”

FFI also today announced that it would apply for a US Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen Hub Program grant in collaboration with Pacific Northwest stakeholders. The Hydrogen Hub Program was enacted under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is being implemented by the DOE.

FFI North America chief executive officer Paul Browning said, “The electric power grid of the Pacific Northwest is one of the lowest carbon power grids in the world and can be used to produce green hydrogen, and could extend the region’s low carbon leadership to hard to electrify sectors like long-haul trucking, ports, aviation, and heavy industry.

“Together with other Pacific Northwest stakeholders, we plan to utilize legacy fossil fuel infrastructure and workforce to produce green hydrogen and pursue a growing zero carbon economy in Lewis County and the Pacific Northwest region.”

Pacific Northwest stakeholders that FFI is collaborating with include Puget Sound Energy, Washington Maritime Blue, Twin Transit and the Lewis County Energy Innovation Coalition. FFI welcomes the opportunity to work with additional stakeholders to support the development of a Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub.