In a significant economic development announcement, Governor Jim Justice revealed a new hydrogen manufacturing project coming to West Virginia.
The project, facilitated by state loans and federal tax breaks for hydrogen initiatives, is set to be undertaken by Clean Vision Corp., a California-based company that has formed a subsidiary named Clean-Seas West Virginia. The venture aims to construct a hydrogen manufacturing facility in Eastern Kanawha County, marking Clean-Seas’ first American operation. The project’s primary objective is to convert plastic waste, sourced from landfills and oceans, into clean fuels and hydrogen, thereby contributing to both environmental and economic improvements.
Clean Vision CEO, Dan Bates, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership with West Virginia and highlighted the state’s leadership and potential to address environmental and economic challenges. The Clean-Seas project is expected to involve a minimum investment of $50 million and create at least 40 full-time jobs. The company plans to commence operations by 2024, processing 100 tons of waste plastic per day initially and scaling up to 500 tons per day in the future.
West Virginia’s government has provided over $12 million in economic incentives, including forgivable loans, tax incentives, employment incentives, and tax credits, to support Clean-Seas’ initiative. Additionally, West Virginia will serve as Clean-Seas’ Atlantic hub within its Plastic Conversion Network (PCN), which sources waste plastics from developing nations for Clean-Seas’ facilities.
The utilization of pyrolysis technology by Clean-Seas enables the breakdown of waste plastics that are not easily recyclable through traditional means. This process generates byproducts that can be converted into diesel fuels, industrial oils, and hydrogen. Importantly, the pyrolysis process produces no-to-low emissions, contributing to the project’s overall sustainability.
Hydrogen, as a clean fuel, holds immense potential for various applications, including industrial production, heavy transportation, and energy fuel cells. West Virginia has actively pursued hydrogen projects, spurred by the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. The state’s Hydrogen Hub Working Group, comprising state and federal elected leaders, submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Energy for a regional hydrogen hub, with specific language in the legislation emphasizing the placement of at least one hub in the Appalachian region.
The collaboration between Clean-Seas and West Virginia is another step forward in the state’s efforts to diversify its energy portfolio and stimulate economic growth. The establishment of a hydrogen manufacturing facility aligns with West Virginia’s access to natural gas supplies and existing infrastructure, creating opportunities for the manufacture of blue hydrogen and underground carbon emissions storage.
In addition to Clean-Seas’ project, discussions are underway for a potential hydrogen initiative at the Pleasants Power Plant near St. Marys. Energy Transition and Environmental Management, the plant’s owners, are exploring the possibility of purchasing the facility to produce hydrogen instead of generating electricity from coal.
The Inflation Reduction Act further supports clean hydrogen projects by including hydrogen as an allowable project for its investment tax credit program for clean energy initiatives. Eligible facilities can receive a percentage of the maximum tax credit in the first year of operation, based on specific criteria and the emissions produced by the project.
The economic benefits of the Clean-Seas project extend beyond immediate job creation. Governor Justice emphasizes that each job brings family security, opportunities for the future, and hope for future generations. The state’s commitment to economic development aligns with its vision for a prosperous and united West Virginia.