September 8, 2023 - Last week, WV Gov. Jim Justice proudly made two major announcements: the first was that Omnis Fuel Technologies, LLC is investing $800 million in the Pleasants Power Plant, and when the expansion is complete creating upwards of 600 jobs; the second, and ground breaking news for the coal industry, is that the expansion will include the conversion of the plant to use coal to produce hydrogen and graphite, which will result for the first time in net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in generating electricity from burning coal.
“This is wonderful news for the coal industry and all the folks in it and connected to it both in this country and around the world,” said Bill Reid, Publisher and Managing Editor of Coal News, Inc. the publisher of CoalZoom.com. “As this process requires double the amount of coal, this project in the U.S. alone has the potential of being the first step in seeing the coal industry return to a production level approaching one billion tons per year.”
The plant is located at Willow Island in Pleasants County, WV and directly employs 154 workers and thousands of temporary workers during maintenance periods. The 1,278-megawatt plant is to produce power from coal with net-zero emissions beginning in the first quarter of 2025. The plant, now renamed Quantum Pleasants, provides electricity to sustain one million homes.
Quantum Pleasants Power Plant was restarted last week and will soon return to normal operations with the aim of converting the plant during the next 20 months. The conversion includes the addition of high- performance burners to use hydrogen efficiently and cleanly at ultra-high temperatures.
Quantum Pleasants Power Plant, Formerly Pleasants Power, Restarts
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized the transfer of Pleasants Power to Omnis Fuel from Energy Transition and Environmental Management. The Omnis Fuel plan is to make clean hydrogen and high-grade graphite from plentiful, low-cost hydrocarbons (coal) as well as leveraging and retrofitting existing power plant infrastructure. Thus, the company will enable high-density energy storage with low-cost and abundant graphite.
The Omnis Fuel patented technology is called “Ultra-High Temperature Omnis Quantum Pyrolysis” (OQP). This restructures hydrocarbons at very high temperatures exceeding 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit generating the hydrogen fuel and utilizing existing coal supply systems and power plants. Therefore, jobs are preserved in current industries while at the same time additional employment is generated in new clean technology markets.
Omnis Fuel will retrofit existing coal-fueled power plants, with Quantum Pleasants being the first, by building OQR at or near the plant site. Electricity is generated from burning the hydrogen and results in the graphite being produced. More than double the coal quantity is needed. The products produced include the electricity to be sold into the national grid and the graphite to be sold into graphite markets.
Coal production in the U.S. has fallen from a peak of 1.172 billion tons in 2008 to an estimated 578 million tons in 2023. Of this total, 370 million tons is consumed by the electric power sector. This figure could be doubled to 740 million tons and with the addition of 175 million tons of exports, also enhanced by this ground breaking technology being applied in other countries, could mean that total U.S. coal production will return to 915 million tons per year levels. This is transformational for coal and is very exciting news!