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Canada joins Germany's Energy Hub

Green Hydrogen Project Nujio’qonik Remains Under Scrutiny Despite Updated Environmental Impact Statement

11 modern wind turbines on a green hillside.
Windmills on a hillside (for editorial purposes only). — via Pixabay

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WEST COAST — While visiting Wilhelmshaven, German, on January 26, World Energy GH2 (WEGH2) became the first North American member of the Port of Wilhelmshaven’s Energy Hub.

“Wilhelmshaven will be one of the first German ports to receive green hydrogen from Canada. The Energy Hub is comprised of significant green hydrogen industry-focused companies and government players who are focused on European energy security and the global energy transition. World-leading companies such as Arcelor Mittal, BP, Engie, E.ON, Equinor, EWE, Gasunie, Orsted, RWE, and Uniper are among the Energy Hub’s membership,” said Laura Barron, Director of Marketing Communications with WEGH2.

“This membership is an example of Project Nujio’qonik being on track to be among the world’s first providers of commercial-scale green hydrogen and ammonia. Building global industry connections, such as those in the Energy Hub, continues to be integral to Project Nujio’qonik’s position as one of the leading green hydrogen projects in the world.”

Project Nujio’qonik to date:

• June 2022: Environmental Registration 

• August 23, 2022: Canada — Germany Hydrogen Alliance signed at the Project Nujio’qonik site in Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)

• September 2022: MOUs signed with Qalipu First Nation and the Town of Stephenville

• November 2022: Wind measurement campaign launched

• March 2023: Crown lands bid submitted

• May 2023: SK ecoplant invested USD $50M in Project Nujio’qonik

• June 2023: World Energy GH2 acquired the Port of Stephenville

• July 2023: Crown lands phase one completed

• July 2023: Pre-FEED (front-end engineering design) completed

• August 2023: Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted

• August 2023: Crown lands secured ~108,000 ha (~266,000 acres)

• September 2023: Scholarships for College of the North Atlantic’s green energy programs announced

• December 2023: One year of wind data achieved

• January 2024: First North American member of the Energy Hub Port of Wilhemshaven.

This new designation doesn’t alter plans World Energy has on the west coast of the province.

“Our membership in the Energy Hub is further advancing various offtake (customer) discussions that are in progress. Our role, alongside the other members of the Energy Hub, is to accelerate the development of the green hydrogen industry, and to help German industry meet their aggressive decarbonization targets,” said Barron. “We’re honoured to be the first North American member of the Energy Hub. Our invitation to join the Energy Hub alongside companies like Equinor, BP, etc. is a clear sign that our project is viewed as a leading project on the global stage.”

“World Energy GH2 is proud to become part of this important European collaboration that is working hard to stand-up the green hydrogen industry, and we’re especially proud to be the first North American member of the Energy Hub,” said Sean Leet, Managing Director and CEO of World Energy GH2. “Project Nujio’qonik is on track to be among the world’s first providers of commercial-scale green hydrogen. Building global industry connections continues to be integral to Project Nujio’qonik’s position as one of the leading green hydrogen projects in the world. Joining the Energy Hub is an exciting development in our journey.”

“The European green hydrogen industry launched in earnest on August 23, 2022, at our project site at the Port of Stephenville, in Newfoundland and Labrador, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz initiated the Canada – Germany Hydrogen Alliance,” continued Leet. “It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to further advance the Canada – Germany collaboration with tangible initiatives such as the Wilhelmshaven Energy Hub, another sign that the rubber is hitting the road.”

Not long after their announcement, WEGH2 resubmitted its amended Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“We have been working diligently to gather the information requested by the provincial government, and submitted the amendment on January 30,” said Barron. “The 70-day regulatory review period has begun, including a 50-day public review period.”

The Department of Environment and Climate Change issued a release later that same day.

“The amendment is now subject to public and government review as required under the Environmental Protection Act. The EIS and the amendment are intended to address the information requirements outlined in the EIS Guidelines that were issued to the Proponent on December 13, 2022 and the minister’s decision of October 31, 2023. The EIS and the amendment can be viewed on the Department’s webpage at:

“Printed copies of the amendment will be placed in the Bay St. George South, Cape St. George, Lourdes, St. George’s, Stephenville, Stephenville Crossing and Upper Ferry (Codroy Valley) public libraries. Printed copies will also be available at the WEGH2 Community Office in Stephenville.

“The amendment was submitted on January 30, 2024; the deadline for public comment is March 20, 2024; and the minister’s decision on the acceptability of the EIS and amendment is due by April 9, 2024.”

WEGH2 discussed the updated EIS in its own newsletter released on Jan. 31.

“WEGH2 had submitted a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Project Nujio’qonik on August 15, 2023. The EIS included baseline studies and predictive effects assessments regarding the project. Stantec, a leading environmental services firm, has been carrying out the environmental studies required since early summer of 2022. The 70-day regulatory review period included a 50-day public comment period. On October 31, 2023, the provincial Minister of Environment and Climate Change determined that additional information was required for the assessment in the form of an Amendment. This Amendment was submitted on January 30, 2024.

“Project Nujio’qonik is planned to be constructed on the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, and will be one of the world’s first commercial-scale wind-to-green-hydrogen projects.”

World Energy plans to have additional consultations with stakeholders to discuss the resubmitted EIS.

“Following approval, the first step will be to submit permit applications for specific scopes of work. Construction for the first phase of the project will be approximately three years,” said Barron. “We are confident that we’ve submitted the necessary information for the EIS process and that we’ve complied with provincial guidelines."

Even though WEGH2 is confident in their amendment, concerns still remain regarding certain aspects of the project and what it will mean for the surrounding environment.

"There's so much to be concerned about with this project, it's overwhelming to be honest," said Mark Lomond with Sou'West Newfoundland Delta Waterfowl. "But I've been trying to stay focused a lot on migratory birds and the effect on migratory birds in our area for bird watchers and bird hunters, because I've also got the largest bird watching group on the island, the Newfoundland and Labrador Bird Watching Group, so I'm heavily involved with bird watching as well as bird hunting. So I've been trying to focus on the migratory bird aspects of it for that reason."

The location of the project is right in the heart of Atlantic flyway.

"Not only that, they're at pinch points in the migratory pathway. In Port au Port it's unbelievable where they're planning on putting those towers out there, and even the Codroy Valley, I mean, we've got important bird areas designated in here. We've got stewardships and estuaries. We've got everything around here, and it seems like they had been banding birds for over 40 years in the Codroy Valley, just seven km from this project," said Lomond. "The reason they banded these waterfowl for the last 40 years is to collect the data to use when making decisions in projects like this. That is literally what this data is collected for, and it was not used at all, and even though the concern was put in — it's still even in the amendment — there's no plan to use any of this information for the area where they're planning on putting this megaproject. It doesn't even make any sense. I can't get my head around why they wouldn't use the data."

Lomond fears that some of the concerns may not be addressed until after the project begins.

 "I went down through (the new EIS) looking at the comments and there's some good concerns there, and basically their responses to a lot of them is, 'we're going to look at it later.' At least, that's what it seems like," said Lomond. "Every concern I had, it looks like they're going to look at this later, but how can the public make a decision on it, or the company or anybody, if you don't have the information that you need to base this decision on? So doing all these surveys later doesn't make much sense to me. The way they kind of got it put is that because it's a phased approach, like the baseline data collection is going to be, say, for Codroy is going to be done during 2024, but after construction is already started in Port au Port, the baseline data is just not there. And, oh my God, the collection methods, everything that they're using, just doesn't seem to be sufficient."

Lomond believes the onus is on World Energy to ensure more studies are done so an informed and accurate decision can be made.

"Just from the little bit in the EIS, they're talking about losses of habitat and quantity and quality of fish being reduced and everything. It sounds terrible. They just don't have any details on it. If you actually had the time to go through the entire thing and look at and just take out all the stuff, the impacts, negative impacts, it looks terrible. It's crazy. I would encourage everyone to just do a little research on draining peat bogs and disturbing peat bogs, the amount of CO2 released from that act. Because draining peat bogs and disturbing them is one thing that they've got in their environmental assessment that they are going to do, and that is a major way to release carbon into there. It says green, but it seems like the opposite of green. It says it's being paraded as green, but there's a lot of things in here that's not green at all. It's the opposite," said Lomond.

"When you talk about the hunters and that, we know guys here who got outfitting camps, the generational jobs and guides and meat cutters and all these people are going to lose their work, and this is not 30 years work, this is generational jobs. They could pass these businesses on to their children. This project, these jobs they're talking about, the permanent after construction ones, is still only the lifespan of the project, which is only 30 years at max, and that could be even less. We don't know because the information is just not there or not easily available to us to know."

Lomond believes the ideas behind Project Nujio’qonik are correct, but the execution still leaves a lot to be desired.

"The thing I find is they're saying it right, but they're doing it wrong, or at least it sounds good," said Lomond. "When you read all of the details, it's like all this stuff that people should be made aware of is almost like it's hidden. It's like we're looking for this stuff and we can't find it."

World Energy was contacted for additional comment, but didn't respond to inquiries in time for publication deadline.

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