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World Energy GH2 hosts public meetings


Managing Director and CEO of World Energy GH2 Sean Leet led the presentation on Monday, April 24, which included discussion about the Codroy Valley project. – © Jaymie White

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WEST COAST — On Monday afternoon, Apr. 24, World Energy GH2 held its first public information session regarding their progress on Project Nujio’qonikat at Day’s Inn, Stephenville. Displays were set up around the room depicting various areas within the project, allowing attendees to ask questions and have one-on-one discussions with leaders involved in bringing the development and implementation of wind farms and green hydrogen to the West coast, both before and after the main presentation. Sean Leet, Managing Director and CEO, lead the presentation. “We’re excited about the progress we’re making. There are still a lot of challenges ahead, but we’re excited to tell you how we’re moving things forward,” he said to a packed house. The project, which is currently in the midst of preparing the Environmental Impact Statement as requested by the provincial government, has three planned project areas: Project Area 1: Stephenville port and plant. Project Area 2: Port au Port wind farm, transmission line, and infrastructure. Project Area 3: Bay St. George South, Codroy wind farm, transmission line, and infrastructure The Community Vibrancy Fund was created where World Energy committed $10 million for the construction phase in the three project areas, and each of these projects will have separate fund management. The Town of Stephenville will manage the funds for area one. A regional committee, Port au Port Regional Vibrancy Committee, will manage the funds for area two, and a regional committee, which is yet to be developed, will manage area three. The fund will support communities through the development and maintenance of assets and activities including infrastructure, developing and constructing regional recreational facilities, enhancing community services, and will be paid over three years, divided equally between all three project areas. World Energy GH2 has also formed a three-phase development plan to move their 3+ GW (gigawatts) wind farm that is estimated to deliver 250,000 tons/year of hydrogen using 1.5 GW electrolysis. Phase one will see up to 2+ GW onshore through two wind farms in Port au Port and Codroy, as well as a hydrogen processing facility in Stephenville. Phase two will be an additional 1 GW through a third wind farm, whose location has yet to be determined, while achieving a concurrent expansion of the hydrogen plant. Phase three will be the time for further evaluation of the wind resource potential and whether or not further expansion of the project will be feasible. “We’re still going through engineering work, pre-feed activities that will allow us to calibrate in a higher level of detail, what the power input to the plant will be. Some of that will be refined further after we get additional wind measurement data which we are starting to collect now on the Port au Port site,” explained Leet. “We’ll be somewhere around 1.5 to 1.7 GW and to power that plant, ultimately, we are looking at 3 GW of wind power. The capacity factor is something that is really important to a project like this, the wind doesn’t blow all the time, so we’re looking to have a capacity factor somewhere around the 50 per cent range which is quite high. That, coupled with the wind speeds we have here, make it a very interesting location and allows us to put a significant sized hydrogen plant here and make significant quantities of commercial hydrogen.” The wind speeds on the Port au Port peninsula were a significant factor in the location choice. “The wind speeds are 9.7 to 11.4 from an onshore wind speed perspective, which is some of the highest wind speeds that project developers we’ve been talking to have seen. We had one developer who was here in Stephenville with us on a couple of occasions, the CEO of a large company, and he remarked to me that this is the highest onshore wind speeds he’s ever seen, which is a huge advantage for a project like this,” shared Leet. The large freshwater port in Stephenville is also advantageous. “The one other main green hydrogen project that is underway now, being done by a company that World Energy in the U.S. has a partnership with, called Air Products. They’re one of the largest industrial gas companies in the world, if not the largest, and their project needs to desalinate the water, so they have to use a fair bit of extra power to push the salt water through the membranes to get it to a state where they can use it for hydrogen production. We do have to do a certain amount of water purification, but it’s much less than using sea water,” explained Leet. “The transmission corridors are existing. We do have to go alongside the existing corridors. We can’t build up above what’s there now, but certainly it’s an advantage to have the existing corridors and be able to run alongside those.” To date, World Energy GH2 has entered into partnerships and MOUs with Qalipu First Nation and the Three Rivers Indian Band and are currently in discussions with the other local Mik’maq groups. “For us (the agreements) need to be meaningful. This is not about us carving off a slice of revenue. We want there to be legacy businesses developed wherever possible with the First Nations that will carry on and service other projects, not just Project Nujio’qonikat.” World Energy estimates that 1,800 direct construction jobs will come from this project as well as 300 operations jobs and 3,500 indirect jobs. Outside of job opportunities, they project numerous regional economic benefits such as:

  1. Significant increase in economic activity

  2. Long-term commitment to municipal tax structure in Stephenville, Port au Port and Codroy area with grants in lieu of taxes

  3. Positively impacting every area of the provincial economy with a massive impact to the local region

  4. Expected increase in property values as more people move to the area and housing demand, for new and existing homes, will increase

  5. Generate a demand for a variety of local goods and services

  6. Improvements to road conditions in order to support construction and maintenance activity

To address potential impacts, along with the development of the Environmental Impact Statement which is well underway, a traffic assessment will also be conducted to reduce impacts to local infrastructure, rare plant surveys are being conducted prior to construction and, if any rare plants are identified within the planned project footprint, mitigation measures would be discussed with the Provincial Wildlife Division, and they are currently doing environmental studies to study any potential impacts to activities such as hiking, snowmobiling, wood harvesting etc. World Energy GH2 also stated that they have consulted with their partners, who have significant experience with the operation and construction of wind farms, and those partners haven’t encountered any situations where local water supplies, both the quantity and quality, have been negatively impacted by wind turbines. If such a situation were to arise, World Energy said they will take full responsibility for any adverse effects. “It’s been an interesting journey from a few perspectives. Anytime you start an undertaking of this nature, a large project like this, there’s going to be lots of questions. We needed to move very quickly at the outset due to some pressures we had from a commercial perspective primarily, so I think we all looked at ourselves and said we didn’t do a great job at getting out in front with the information,” said Leet. “Hopefully now you’re finding the team here is getting around, answering the questions that need to be answered. We want this to be a project the community can be extremely proud of. We’d love to be able to please everybody. Are we going to be able to? I’m not sure about that, but we’re going to do our best.” A Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study was conducted by Health Canada in partnership with Statistics Canada, involving communities in Southern Ontario and Prince Edward Island, with the specific purpose of evaluating and understanding impacts of wind turbine noise on health and well-being. A total of 1,238 households out of a possible 1,570 participated in the three-part study which had an in-person questionnaire, a collection of physical health measures, and more than 4,000 hours of wind turbine noise measurements. The key findings of the study revealed that no evidence was found linking exposure to wind turbine noise and any self-reported illnesses, no association between the noise and increased stress indicators, no correlation between the noise and lowered sleep quality, and no significant changes in reported quality of life. There was an association found between wind turbine noise and a heightened level of annoyance, but the calculated noise levels were found to be below levels that would potentially directly affect health. Even though the current focus of the project is the wind farm development on the Port au Port Peninsula, once that development is completed, the project is expected to move on to development in the Codroy area. The planned location of the wind farm, which could be viewed on a map available at the presentation, would be outside the ecological reserve, in the Anguille Mountains for the most part. This location also offers a significant distance between existing homes and farmland and the project. Christopher Bruce, Chair of the Codroy Valley Area Development Association (CVADA), believes there are two projects that the Valley needs to be keeping an eye on, the World Energy GH2 project and the FFI (Fortesque Future Industries) project. “I think the latest map I saw (from World Energy GH2) had their site three coming from Codroy Pond to somewhere inside the Cape Anguille Mountains, so that’s called area nine in the hunting world, and so there are quite a few hunting camps that operate out of that area,” said Bruce. “That’s one of the concerns at the top of mind of the community. What will the impact be on the hunters, all the tourists that fly in to hunt, the meat processing plants and all that, and I think it’s a pretty fair concern. There’s a thought that the animals will come back afterwards, even though they may be driven off by construction, and I can’t say I know, but that’s a concern for me as well.” Thus far Bruce hasn’t seen a wildlife mitigation plan to address those concerns. “Maybe that’s something more the province should be concerned about than the companies, but I would suggest both, especially if that’s the main concern coming out of, at least, our community,” said Bruce. “It’s probably a larger concern for us because hunting and fishing, working with the land and living off of it, makes up more of our lives than in towns, but it’s obviously a big part of life for everyone on the West coast I think.” Bruce has been in contact with World Energy. “They’ve actually been quite communicative. They have not accepted our offers to host a meeting, a public meeting here in the Valley, and that is a disappointment. FFI has been offered one as well, but I guess they’re not quite as far along, but neither party has chosen to accept that offer yet,” said Bruce. “With the open houses they are doing this week, the Valley has been invited up to Robinsons to participate in the open house there, and within the catchment area it would be Robinsons, the Highlands and coming down as far as the Valley. So we certainly were invited to go up the highway, and I suppose that isn’t too onerous, but it does feel like it cuts out the Valley a little bit from the conversation. For the Community Vibrancy Fund, they have offered seats for the community on that so we’re not being kept out of the loop exactly, but we’re maybe not where the conversation is centered.” Bruce is happy with the personal level of access World Energy has offered thus far. “One of my objectives, and the CVADA’s objectives, is to create more of a community-focused dialogue, and that involves coming out to the community.” Getting involved and learning more remains the current focus. “The CVADA has not taken a position on either of our windmill projects coming, and not taken a position against them,” said Bruce. “It’s just we recognize it’s definitely a heated sort of subject, and we want to just represent the community so we need to make sure there is a consensus within the community, something we need to figure out and we’re being very slow and very cautious, not getting too excited in either direction.”

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