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Energy summit sparks interest in PAB and NL

Port aux Basques Town Clerk Nadine Osmond (left) and Economic Development Officer Shauna Strickland in Rotterdam. – Submitted photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — From May 9-11, two representatives from the town of Port aux Basques attended the World Hydrogen Summit and Exhibition in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Shauna Strickland, Economic Development Officer, and Town Clerk, Nadine Osmond attended to showcase the benefits of doing business in the town with industry leaders from around the globe and simply to learn. The plan to attend came about quite quickly and even that in itself offered a lesson. “If we get involved in attending more of these conferences in the future, conferences related to energy, the new energy ventures that are being developed, like the hydrogen and the wind energy, then we’d probably include some more stakeholders in Port aux Basques, maybe include the Chamber of Commerce or any other businesses that would be interested in hearing about the information,” said Osmond. “Some companies asked about your wind because it’s one thing to say there’s lots of wind here in Port aux Basques, but they like to have evidence, a chart to show the wind throughout the year.” There was a mixture of emotions heading into the trip. “I was excited, but nervous at the time because it’s a very big conference and I hadn’t flown overseas in years,” said Osmond. “The conference was so big and there were so many international players, and we’re a small town, so I wasn’t sure how everything was going to play out once we got there, and I think Shauna probably felt the same way.” Attending allowed the town representatives and the province to showcase Newfoundland as a place of great potential for wind energy and hydrogen development, and that Port aux Basques in particular is a place that developers should consider for doing business. “We had a brochure which had the information on our port and some land that was available for purchase because a lot of these companies ask about the available land in case they want to build a site, whether that be a plant or a storage area,” said Osmond. “They usually ask about the land. They ask about the water facilities here, and they usually ask about wind. We’re a small port, but we have all of those items. We also made people aware that we’re the most easterly province in Canada, we’re on the west coast of the most easterly province, and we connect with Nova Scotia more easily here than in other towns in the province, so we tried to highlight those things as well.” The communities that sent delegates to speak with developers did not hold formal presentations. “We weren’t set up to do presentations. Newfoundland had a booth where we were able to display our materials. Other towns from Newfoundland were represented at the booth. Argentia, Placentia, they had some people there, as well as Corner Brook, Exploits Valley area, and they were similar to us. They met with people. Everybody had their business cards. There was a lot of exchanging of business cards,” said Osmond. “We chatted with people who were interested in hearing about Newfoundland and Andrew Parsons (Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology) did a presentation about Newfoundland. He talked about the incentives that Newfoundland has in place and Canada has in place for international companies to come in and set up business.” Things kicked off for the PAB representatives almost as soon as they arrived. “The first morning that we went in we were a little bit overwhelmed. The exhibition floor is quite large and there’s presentations going on in quite a large theater style auditorium,” said Osmond. “There were also some smaller presentations taking place throughout the couple of days on the exhibition floor itself. There was a couple of areas that people were giving presentations. That’s where Andrew Parsons gave the presentation on Newfoundland and Labrador.” There were also presentations focused specifically on showcasing Canada and the Atlantic provinces. “You had the Canadian ambassador for the Netherlands and some other Canadian federal representatives. There were some presentations given on the Atlantic provinces. Some potential business people who are interested in setting up in Newfoundland presented as well,” shared Osmond. “At the beginning of that session, one of the things that they talk about is the geography of Canada, because Europeans, they’re used to working together from country to country, and in Canada you have all the provinces and I don’t think they realize how big Canada is. That’s one thing I think that was explained at the beginning of the presentation for the Canada session, that it’s quicker for new people in Newfoundland to go to Europe than it is to go to B.C.” Osmond believes that attending the presentations was extremely beneficial. “That presentation was really good because it gave information to me and Shauna as well about what is being offered for businesses to set up, what the Canadian incentives are, and to hear from the, some of the different companies who have some businesses started already with the hydrogen industry,” said Osmond. “It’s a very new industry, for Newfoundland. It’s totally new, but we want to be part of the industry. We tried to soak up as much information as we could. We also went to a number of booths on the exhibition floor and spoke to people who were interested in Canada or Newfoundland.” There were also other experiences to be had outside of the convention center that allowed for a better understanding. “We also went on a tour of the port of Rotterdam and that was part of the convention. You could sign up to do that as well. Rotterdam is one of the largest ports in the world and it was quite eye opening to see the big operations over there,” said Osmond. “Some of the largest ships in the world are going through there and there’s a lot of infrastructure already set up for hydrogen and wind and ammonia storage. They’ve been doing this for a few years and I think, because of Europe’s reliance on gas for energy and with the war between Ukraine and Russia, I think that they’ve been concentrating more energy into developing the hydrogen industry as an alternative to gas.” Osmond said interest in the province by wind energy developers is already evident. “They are definitely interested in Newfoundland. I think they need to do a bit of looking into different parts of the province themselves, but myself and Leon (MacIsaac, Town Manager) had a phone call yesterday (Tuesday, May 23) with a company we didn’t meet at the summit, but we made a connection with them through the summit app they had set up,” said Osmond. “This company is international. They have an office in the U.S. and an office in Canada. We met with them yesterday and they asked a lot of questions about coming to Newfoundland to do business. One of the first things they asked was about the available crown land and what the process was, that sort of thing, so we told them as much information as we could about Port aux Basques, what’s nearby, and how we’re connected to the rest of the province.” Osmond sees the greater potential and benefits in continuing to have representatives from Port aux Basques attend and be represented at future conferences. “Internationally, there is so much going on with this industry, with hydrogen, ammonia, and wind, and there’s so many connections being made. I found Linked-In was a good source for seeing what’s happening because the conference itself had a Linked-In page and a lot of the companies were in there announcing potential business contracts,“ said Osmond. “Port aux Basques can benefit from this over the next few years. A lot of these industries are starting the conversations, but it’s going to be a few years. It’ll probably be 2025, 2026, or 2028 before they could be fully operational. It’s going to take a long time for a lot of the facilities to be built.” The location of similar future conferences will hopefully make things a little bit easier. “I think there will be more conferences like this that are going to be closer. Like one of our councillors is going to the energy conference in St. John’s and they’re going to be talking about various types of energy, like hydrogen and wind, and they’ll continue to talk about oil and gas since we have that infrastructure already. It’s been on the go for years in Newfoundland,” said Osmond. Canada may only be getting started with wind energy development, but there are parts of the world that have been operating for years. “The hydrogen industry is happening very quickly. We don’t see it here yet, but in Europe it’s happening so fast. I heard somebody comment throughout the event that the oil and gas industry developed at a slower pace, but hydrogen and wind, it’s happening really quickly and companies have to form those relationships and get things started,” said Osmond. “Even though we’re not hearing a lot about it here yet, it’s happening really quickly in Europe and Asia, and down in the States it’s happening fairly quickly as well. Canada is in the beginning stages. There are some projects happening already, but it’s not progressed as far in Canada as some other countries, but it’s going to happen fast.”

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