US Department of Energy taps Fortescue for Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub

Fortescue has been selected to begin award negotiations as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) development of the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub. Image credit: Fortescue

Australian iron ore mining company Fortescue has been chosen to commence award negotiations in collaboration with the US Department of Energy Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) for the development of the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub.

This initiative is expected to receive substantial funding, with an estimated total allocation of up to $1 billion under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In a news release, Fortescue said its selection paves the way for a partnership in the establishment of the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub, which includes the proposed green hydrogen production facility in Centralia, WA.

The OCED funding is set to bolster Fortescue’s involvement in the Hydrogen Hub, facilitating various aspects such as planning, detailed design, environmental permitting, and the procurement of long-lead equipment.

Dr Andrew Forrest, executive chairman of Fortescue, expressed his optimism about investing in renewable and green energy projects in the United States, stating, “There is no place better in the world to be investing in renewable and green energy projects right now than the United States.”

He added, “Federal funding like this, alongside other incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act, go a long way to helping reduce risk and accelerate the wide-spread production of green hydrogen.”

Consequently, Forrest stated that this will trigger significant investments from the private sector, leading to the generation of well-compensated employment opportunities and enhanced economic well-being for the American population, with a particular focus on those residing in economically disadvantaged communities in the Pacific Northwest.

Meanwhile, Andrew Vesey, CEO of Fortescue North America, highlighted the historic significance of the region’s selection for award negotiations to develop an official federal Hydrogen Hub.

He emphasised Fortescue’s commitment to contributing to the Pacific Northwest’s clean energy transition through its participation in the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Association.

The proposed project in Centralia, WA is strategically planned to be located on a reclaimed coal mine adjacent to Washington’s final coal-fired power plant, scheduled to permanently retire in 2025.

The facility’s primary objective is to produce green hydrogen at a significant scale, primarily for local use in the Pacific Northwest.

Its applications will extend to heavy-duty transportation, grid reliability, maritime, industrial processes, and other challenging-to-decarbonise sectors.

Aside from the positive impact on regional clean energy, this project, fortified by the recent announcement, promises to create well-paying job opportunities for the local workforce and establish a new economic pillar in Lewis County, ensuring a sustainable legacy for future generations.

The project is currently in the design phase, with full permitting procedures scheduled to follow.

Project construction is expected to commence in 2026, extending into 2028, contingent on a Final Investment decision by the Fortescue board.