Omnis Fuel Technologies’ plans for Pleasants Power Station raise doubts
Omnis Fuel Technologies, the new owner of the Pleasants Power Station, has a transformative two-year plan for the once-ailing plant. But not everyone is convinced.
Omnis Fuel Technologies, the new owner of the Pleasants Power Station, has a transformative two-year plan for the once-ailing plant.
They intend to build what they call an Omnis Quantum Refinery on the power plant’s campus.
Omnis says the quantum refinery will use a proprietary process to transform coal into graphite and hydrogen.
The coal-fired power plant will be retrofitted to burn the hydrogen to produce energy, and the graphite will be sold as a component in technologies like electric car batteries.
Omnis says all of the current employees at the power station will keep their jobs, and project that an additional 800 jobs will be added by the time the whole operation is running in early 2025.
Some elected leaders see it as a compelling future to imagine for a plant that has come dangerously close to closure more than once in the last five years. Gov. Jim Justice (R - W.Va.) touted the company’s plans on Aug. 30, when the plant powered back on after months of inactivity. “For the first time, maybe the first time in this country, the Pleasants Power Plant, a power plant, a coal fired power plant, is taking new life,” Justice said.
But not everyone is convinced.
Sean O’Leary, a senior researcher at the Ohio River Valley Institute, points out that Omnis has optimistic goals for their graphite production, planning to produce 6.1 million tons annually by early 2025. According to the most recent data from the Canadian Department of Natural Resources, global consumption for graphite is a little more than half that at 3.5 million metric tons.
Graphite is an important component in electric vehicle batteries, and O’Leary said the market is expected to grow in the coming years.
Even so, O’Leary said it’s still a lofty goal.
“Even when you take into account planned expansion of the market for graphite because of the greater prevalence of electric vehicles, it still is a very doubtful proposition, because it would mean that basically they’re going to take over at least half and probably more of the total graphite market,” O’Leary said.
Pleasants County Commission President Jay Powell has been one of the most vocal advocates of the power station. “What I can tell you about Omnis – everything they’ve said so far has happened,” Powell said when asked about O’Leary’s concerns. “So I’m taking them at their word completely, with what they’ve shared with us locally.”
“Omnis is looking at securing many more power stations,” Powell said when asked if he views Omnis’ plans as overly optimistic. “We’re the first. We’re blessed to be the first. So, what they produce here, certainly – I know they have a business plan that needs what they’re going to produce here at Pleasants County.”
Sean O’Leary writes that the possibility of Omnis expanding their graphite production even further than the 6.1 million tons a year they already project is dubious.
We’ve been unable to reach Omnis Fuel Technologies for comment at this time.
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