Fort Nelson FN propose super green hydrogen plant

First Nation, Brian Fehr propose plant that would make carbon negative hydrogen with wood waste

Brian Fehr, right, pictured here receiving a gift from Jason Louie, chief of Yaqan Nukiy First Nation (Lower Kootenay Band) at the grand opening of Columbia Lake Technology Centre in 2021. | Morgan Turner

The Fort Nelson First Nation have partnered with Hydrogen Naturally Inc. (H2N) to explore a plan to develop a $1.2 billion "bright green" hydrogen production plant in Fort Nelson that would use wood waste as a feedstock, with carbon capture and storage or use.

Because the proposed plant would use direct air carbon capture and storage, the hydrogen it produced would be carbon negative. The proponents are dubbing this as "bright green hydrogen." (Blue hydrogen is made from natural gas with carbon capture and storage, while green hydrogen is made from water and electricity.)

The partners are currently in the early exploration stage, but have identified a site: an old oriented strand board plant site in Fort Nelson. In addition to making hydrogen from wood waste, the partners are also exploring the possibiluty of making other products, like wood pellets, from forestry harveting residuals.

"A partnership with H2N would include equity participation," Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Gail said in a press release.

"Working alongside the H2N team, we see an opportunity to explore how Fort Nelson First Nation can meaningfully contribute to accelerating the hydrogen economy in B.C. and support the clean energy transition. We look forward to continuing discussions between H2N and my community in the months to come."

The proposed plant would produce up to 1 million tonnes of hydrogen and remove more than 20 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere over a 50-year operational life, the partners say in a news release.

“Not only will H2N produce carbon-negative hydrogen with the manufacture of Bright Green Hydrogen, in partnership with Fort Nelson First Nation, we will also provide stable, long-term forestry jobs and a local market for residual fibre," said Hydrogen Naturally co-chairman Brian Fehr.

Fehr was the founder of the BID Group, which supplies equipment and machinery for the forest industry. In recent years, he has been buying up shuttered sawmill and pulp mill sites in B.C. and turning them into new industries, from wood pellet plants to bitcoin mining operations. Many of his ventures have involved First Nations partners.