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West Coast wind development makes progress

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WEST COAST — Wind development on the province’s West Coast has been quickly moving forward, but the environmental assessment has yet to be completed before breaking ground on the wind turbines on the Port au Port Peninsula.

On Monday, Oct. 3, the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET) provided an update on the multi-stage process for wind generation in Newfoundland and Labrador. The department received 31 land nomination submissions for wind energy projects prior to the Oct. 1 deadline.

“During the next stage in the process, the Provincial Government will complete a detailed assessment to determine which land packages will be made available for this first round of the competitive land bid process. This will be informed through a review of the proposed use of the nominated land, a review of the existing land uses in nominated areas, and through engagement with communities and Indigenous partners. The call for bid process is expected to be launched on December 15, 2022. More information on the competitive land bid process, including what criteria will be followed for the bid process will be available in the coming weeks. No Crown lands have been approved, and they will not be awarded until a competitive bid process occurs.”

Minister Andrew Parsons said the process is essential to ensure Newfoundland and Labrador receives the greatest possible benefit.

“This multi-stage, transparent approach is working to ensure a fair process for those interested in exploring industrial developments in Newfoundland and Labrador. The province’s resources belong to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and this competitive approach is being utilized in a manner that provides the greatest long-term benefit to residents of the province as we work to ensure responsible development of our clean, renewable energy resources to meet global demand.”

Bernard Davis, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, also announced the following information regarding the environmental assessment of the Port au Port-Stephenville Wind Power and Hydrogen Generation Project (Project Nujio’qonik GH2), for World Energy GH2 Inc.

“The proposed Port au Port-Stephenville Wind Power and Hydrogen Generation Project (Project Nujio’qonik GH2) Project is undergoing a provincial environmental assessment, and an environmental impact statement (EIS) is required. The environmental assessment committee has prepared draft EIS guidelines that identify the information that must be included in the EIS. The public is invited to review these guidelines and provide written comments by November 8, 2022. Comments received will be reviewed and considered before the EIS guidelines are finalized and issued to the proponent.”

Written comments are to be sent to Eric Watton, the Committee Chair for the environmental assessment. Even though the assessment means the project is at a standstill, preparation for wind energy development continue. After an agreement was signed on Aug. 23 in Stephenville, a second signing took place in Hamburg, Germany.

On Sept. 27, Steve Crocker, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation, on behalf of Premier Andrew Furey, signed a Joint Declaration of Intent with Almut Möller, State Secretary and Plenipotentiary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, outlining co-operation between the two in the green hydrogen and hydrogen technology field.

The Declaration of Intent was signed at City Hall in Hamburg during the WindEnergy Hamburg conference, and the purpose is to establish the hydrogen supply chains between Germany and Newfoundland with hydrogen exports being received by Germany. A joint effort is called for in the declaration in order to help accelerate the growth of green hydrogen in key areas such as infrastructure development, investment, and partnerships.

This signing follows the previous Declaration of Intent that was signed in Stephenville which established the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance. The Office of the Premier issued a release on the same day of the signing, Sept. 27.

“Hydrogen is a clean, emissions-free fuel source in increasingly high demand as key Canadian trading partners, such as Germany, seek alternatives to fossil fuels to transition to a low-carbon economy while ensuring their energy security. “Green hydrogen” is hydrogen that is produced using energy from renewable sources, such as wind energy or hydropower, to ensure that both the production and use of hydrogen is emissions-free.

“Germany’s is the largest economy in Europe and fourth-largest in the world, and the country forecasts that by 2030 it will only be able to meet 30-40 per cent of its own hydrogen demand through domestic production. Germany’s National Hydrogen Strategy, which was released in June 2020, made €7 billion available to support green hydrogen projects within Germany, and a further €2 billion available for establishing green hydrogen partnerships with other countries.”

Premier Furey said he is pleased at the positive progress being made.

“Newfoundland and Labrador is well-positioned to meet the clean energy needs of key Canadian partners like Germany thanks to our abundant hydro resources, surplus grid energy, world-class wind resources, available Crown land and fresh water, deep marine ports, and proximity to markets in North America and Europe. And Hamburg’s aspirations to become a hydrogen hub for Germany and northern Europe make it an ideal partner for the province. I look forward to the progress we will make together in the coming years to establish a thriving green hydrogen economy that will be beneficial for us all.”

Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose made the trip to Germany to attend the WindEnergy Hamburg conference, and said it was an experience for the books.

“It went very well and I felt very privileged to be the mayor of a town in Newfoundland in Canada, that was in Germany, playing a role to help solve the world energy crisis.”

Rose spent a week in Germany for the conference and believes a lot was done in a short amount of time.

“Myself, two councillors, and our manager went, and it was a massive trades show. I’m very used to big trades shows. I worked in the aviation sector and attended a lot of aerospace trades shows in the past, and this was very large scale,” said Rose. “There were a lot of companies that are involved in green technologies, whether it’s providing products and services, whether it’s engineering, but this is a big industry and this is an industry that’s trending, and this is an industry that’s going to play a critical role for the planet from an ecosystem protection perspective.”

Rose said the most significant part of the week was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with World Energy GH2.

“The Town of Stephenville, we are a registered Indigenous community within Newfoundland and Labrador, registered with the federal government, so being a member of Qalipu, being a mayor, we signed an MOU. I took my regalia jacket and got our picture done with German media,” said Rose. “In the MOU, it identifies that World Energy will support communities like Stephenville, or any communities they are going to be operating in, with vibrancy funding so we ensure our communities have better access to everything from healthcare to community playgrounds, to protecting the ecosystem, to taking care of children, taking care of seniors.”

Rose added that this industry is going to ensure that significant weather events, such as post-tropical depression Fiona, which had a devastating impact on the Southwest Coast, don’t continue.

“It just goes to show how important a new energy to mitigate greenhouse gasses is, and the whole world has signed on to work at 2050 targets or 2030 targets.”

Rose said shipping green hydrogen to Germany will not be entirely new for Stephenville.

“We are so fortunate because we have one of the best wind corridors in the world, definitely in North America, and that’s going to be able to monetize, make green hydrogen, and what’s also interesting, we’re going to start shipping green hydrogen out of Stephenville and 20 years ago we used to ship newsprint from Stephenville to Hamburg, Germany. Times are changing and it goes to show that we’ve got great leadership and we also have to understand the urgency of getting the market.”

Rose said that while there are challenges, the importance of the development is readily apparent.

“A little bit of a challenge for us is the timelines that it may take provincially, but I am hoping that the government can fast track their processes, because this is not just a standard norm. This is a world energy crisis and the government, on our level, I take it seriously, and the feds (federal government) need the province to also play a role to ensure that this does not get delayed. This is big news.”

Rose said being at the conference definitely solidified his hope in the prosperity Stephenville and neighbouring communities could reap in the future by helping to grow wind energy development in this region.

“Construction timelines on everything that’s happening here will start in the spring. That’s my hope. And this town is going to become a very busy town,” said Rose. “We’re truly an international town, but because of that one unique resource we have, our wind. It is how Stephenville is profiled in the world, especially in Germany and into the green market. This is going to bring families home. This is going to bring tertiaries. This is going to repatriate Newfoundlanders back to Stephenville. We are already starting to see it. There are some people against it and I’m not. I am not against it for a lot of good reasons, and they really need to think about the communities as a whole, think about the families whose children and grandchildren don’t live here because there’s no jobs. If you were to pick a job or industry, wouldn’t you pick a green industry? This is clean, green, no emissions. This is the best thing you could ever want.”

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