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Solar company announces plans for Penn Forest property

A developer has announced plans to purchase 122 acres in Penn Forest Township for a solar and hydrogen energy project.

Enerkon Solar International Inc. says it plans to use the site for a solar farm and a facility to convert the solar energy into hydrogen. No plans for the energy project have been submitted to the Penn Forest Township supervisors.

The company also claims to be working on plans for a solar plant near the site of the Chernobyl disaster, cryptocurrency in Africa, and instant COVID-19 tests for the developing world.

A company representative said the Penn Forest site will produce so-called “green hydrogen.” The emerging technology is being eyed as a potential alternative to fossil fuels, but it still costs much more to produce.

“There’s a huge market in the U.S. and around the world for hydrogen,” said Mohamed Sayed, a technical consultant for Enerkon.

Typically hydrogen is produced through the burning of fossil fuels. Green hydrogen uses renewable electricity to separate the hydrogen and oxygen atoms of water.

There are currently no green hydrogen facilities in Pennsylvania. Another company has proposed a green hydrogen project which would use power from a hydroelectric dam on the Susquehanna River.

The land Enerkon plans to purchase is located between the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Pohopoco Tract of the Weiser State Forest. It is currently zoned agricultural residential. The township’s zoning ordinance allows solar farms in all zoning districts, but an industrial use like a hydrogen production plant would likely require approval from the zoning hearing board.

The project would provide tax revenue and jobs for the area, particularly during the construction phase, Sayed said.

Sayed said the purchase of the 122 acres will be completed in the coming weeks, but wouldn’t put a timeline on the project overall. The current owner of the property, Robert McCulley, said a nondisclosure agreement prevented him from answering questions related to the property.