Form Energy broke ground on its $760 million iron-air battery manufacturing plant in Weirton, West Virginia at an old steel mill. The factory will produce batteries that run on iron, water, and air and are capable of storing electricity for up to 100 hours. The plant will also create 750 permanent jobs for local residents.
The project was made possible through incentives provided by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, and Form Energy hopes to renew Weirton’s deindustrialized coal and steel economy with green jobs.
The old Weirton steel mill was once a pillar in the West Virginian economy, and at its height, it employed nearly 13,000 workers. But over the years, demand declined as consumers began purchasing cheaper steel from foreign countries, and in 2003, the company operating the steel mill filed for bankruptcy protection.
“This was a major blow to residents’ economic well-being,” said Ted Boettner, Senior Researcher at the Ohio River Valley Institute.
State officials are optimistic that the new plant will not only help West Virginia meet its net-zero goals, but also reinvigorate the local economy. To incentive companies to assist in their growth, the state also provides a 30% tax credit to projects that provide a prevailing wage and commit a certain share of labor to workers in registered apprenticeship programs.