California-based Omnis Global Technologies is in negotiations to buy the 1300 MW coal fired Pleasants Power Station in West Virginia from Energy Transition and Environmental Management, a Texas company that had bought the plant with the intention of demolishing it. Omnis has signed a letter of intent to that effect, aiming to refurbish the plant and run it on hydrogen, possibly in a co-firing mode. The plant was shut down on 1 June after a concerted effort from West Virginia officials to keep it running. However, critics of the scheme are wary, as converting a coal power plant to burn hydrogen is an, as yet, untested solution.
Omnis says the hydrogen will be a by-product of an adjacent plant where it plans to produce graphite, a major component of electric vehicle batteries.
Analysts who study the electricity and critical minerals markets have raised doubts about the proposal, saying that Omnis is unknown in the field and questioning whether its plans are technically feasible.
“This is a company that as far as we know has never run a coal plant, and they face additional challenges of converting it in a way that appears unprecedented and untested,” said Seth Feaster, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. The think tank has previously criticised attempted coal plant rescues in other states.
Image: Pleasants Power Station (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)