With an announcement made on Monday (May 16), FFI confirmed its ambitions to repurpose coal infrastructure with the company set to evaluate the feasibility in converting a former Centralia coal mine into a hydrogen production facility.

In doing so, vast quantities of hydrogen could enter the North American market helping to cater for the transition to zero-emission operations in the region.

This has additionally been formalised with a binding exclusivity agreement with the Industrial Park at TransAlta (IPAT) in Washington, US.

Another key factor of the project would be to retrain existing staff at the coal mine for hydrogen with FFI confirming it will do so in a bid to fully transition the facility, and its workforce, to the merging green energy economy.

The Centralia coal-fired power plant adjacent to the IPAT project site is scheduled to close in 2025.

Dr. Andrew Forrest, Chairman and Founder of Fortescue Future Industries, 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.”

Paul Browning, CEO of Fortescue Future Industries North America, 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 utilise 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.”

Fortescue is also working with a number of Pacific Northwest stakeholders to support the integration of the project. This includes Puget Sound Energy, Washington Maritime Blue, Twin Transit and the Lewis County Energy Innovation Coalition.

FFI also will 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.

Josh Jacobs, Vice-President of Clean Energy Strategy at Puget Sound Energy, said, “Our aspirational Beyond Net Zero Carbon initiative requires that we deploy innovative decarbonisation technologies like green hydrogen.

“We look forward to taking this important work forward.”

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