NW Innovation Works

NW Innovation Works (Northwest Innovation Works or NWIW) is a company proposing methanol refineries in the Pacific Northwest region. The company refers to itself as a clean tech company.

Company historyEdit

The company was founded in 2011 by the Pan-Pacific Energy Corp, owned by Shanghai Bi Ke Clean Energy Technology Co., Ltd, the private equity arm of the government-owned Chinese Academy of Sciences, and BP, who later sold their share of the company.[1] Johnson Matthey joined in 2015, and by 2016 a shareholder was Stonepeak Partners, a private equity firm managing over $5 billion in equity in 2016.[2]

The natural gas feedstock, typically produced by fracking and supplied through the Northwest Pipeline, would go through a methane reforming process to produce liquid methane, which would be shipped to Dalian, China for plastics production.[3][4]

Proposed facilitiesEdit

Tacoma, WashingtonEdit

After lobbying on a 2013 Chinese trade mission by Washington State's governor Jay Inslee,[5] NWIW announced plans to build "the world's largest methanol plant" in Tacoma, Washington, at the site of a former Kaiser Aluminum smelter. The plant was announced in 2014 and canceled in 2016 after protests and lawsuits.[6][1]

Kalama, WashingtonEdit

NWIW announced their planned liquid methanol plant at the Port of Kalama in Kalama, Washington. The company touts this refinery as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by displacing coal plants in China, though the Stockholm Environment Institute and others dispute this, stating greenhouse gas emissions would increase, displacing sources other than coal plants.[7][8][6]

The Kalama plant would also use a Zero Liquid Discharge system to prevent waste products from flowing into the Columbia River.[7]

While the plant has been touted as displacing coal-to-plastics processes, OPB obtained documents showing that in 2019 the company said the methanol would be used as fuel in China.[9][10]

Financing for the plant may be backed with a $2 billion federal loan guarantee, as well as federal and state grants, loans, and tax breaks.[6]

Clatskanie, OregonEdit

NWIW also has plans to build a methane reforming facility on the Columbia River at Port Westward industrial park near Clatskanie, Oregon.[1][11][12][13]


  1. ^ a b c "Tacoma methanol project canceled". thenewstribune. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "NWIW presentation - redacted PDF" (PDF). columbiariverkeeper.org. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  3. ^ "Some answers to the methanol-plant questions fueling impassioned debate". bellinghamherald. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  4. ^ "China-backed company envisions major methanol export plants at Kalama, Clatskanie". Longview Daily News. January 22, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2019. The company’s Chinese client is hungry for large quantities of the product, which would be shipped from the Columbia River ports on 50,000-metric-ton Panamax ships to Dalian.
  5. ^ "Methanol proposal arrived in Tacoma after extensive Inslee courtship". thenewstribune. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "Taxpayers May Soon Be on the Hook for a $2 Billion Fracked Gas Refinery". Pacific Standard. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Proposed Kalama Methanol Plant to Bring Dramatic GHG Reductions Northwest Innovation Works will Mitigate 100% of In-State Emissions - NW Innovation Works". nwinnovationworks.com. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  8. ^ "Kalama methanol plant could increase global GHG emissions | SEI". SEI. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  9. ^ Solomon, Molly. "For Plastics Or Fuel? A Controversial Methanol Plant May Be Misleading The Public, Regulators". opb.org. Retrieved May 19, 2019. Documents obtained by OPB show that NWIW is saying one thing to state regulators while eyeing China’s fuels market. As recently as January 2019, PowerPoint presentations shown to potential investors in the Kalama facility detailed the company’s apparent intent to burn their methanol for fuel in China.
  10. ^ "NWIW presentation - OPB (PDF)" (PDF). opb-imgserve-production.s3-website-us-west-2.amazonaws.com. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  11. ^ NW Innovation Works (February 2016). "Gas to Methanol Facility at the Port of St. Helens (Fact Sheet)" (PDF). Pamplin Media. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  12. ^ Vaughn, Courtney (May 20, 2016). "New details emerge about methanol plant proposal". Portland Tribune. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  13. ^ de Place, Eric; Adjorlolo, Maoulay (August 17, 2015). "What Methanol Means for the Northwest". Sightline Institute. Retrieved May 19, 2019.

External linksEdit