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World Energy GH2 shares new EIS

Green hydrogen firm offers first glance at proposed facility

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter STEPHENVILLE — On Thursday afternoon, Jan. 4, representatives from World Energy GH2 held a community drop-in session to update stakeholders about the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) amendments for its green energy development, Project Nujio’qonik, prior to resubmission. In its presentation, World Energy GH2 outlined the necessary updates to the EIS to provide the additional information as requested by the provincial government. “You may be quite familiar that government came back to us end of October, beginning of November, and said that they had some questions, so we needed to provide some more information before they could provide approval,” said Director of Marketing and Communications, Laura Barron. “So we’ve been working very hard over the last few months to gather that information, make some project changes, and what we’re sharing with you today are some of the key changes for the project that are different from what you would have seen in August, September, and this is what we plan to submit to government later this month. Then — and we’ll take you through all of this — we have to go through the same timeline for another 70-day government review period through which there will be a 50-day public comment period, and the full amendment will be published on the government website.” David Pinsent, Environmental Assessment Manager for WEGH2, detailed the process from start to present. “We started with the project registration in June of 2022, and that’s just really a description of the project that you’re going to do the environmental assessment on. The minister then made a decision that the registration of the project would require a full environmental impact assessment, which is the highest level of assessment in the province. So we prepared that assessment according to the impact assessment guidelines that the government issued, which is really terms of reference for the EIS. We submitted that in August of 2023, and the government took their 70 day review time, which included a 50 day public review time at the same concurrent time. In the end of October, we received the results of that review, and you can all rest assured that the government read every page of it because we got 367 comments back on the EIS. It was a very thorough review of the impact assessment. We are working through those comments now, trying to analyze what needs to be done for each one of those comments, and as you can imagine, there’s a lot of variety in the work that needs to be done.” Even though there were over 300 comments, that doesn’t mean that World Energy GH2 needs to take action on every single one. “Roughly speaking, I think that about a third of them that there would be no response required because it’s just the government telling us that a permit is required for such an activity or something like that, so it’s not anything that we would have to respond to. Another third of the comments are really minor. They’re clarification questions or something, and we can refer to them in another section of the EIS that might have been missed by a particular department. So that leaves about a third of the comments, maybe 110 or so, that we have to do some work on, and that’s what we’re doing now, really doing the legwork, doing the research, doing the engineering to respond to those roughly 110 comments or so,” explained Pinsent. “Some of those comments would include removal requirement to remove twelve turbines from the proposed expansion of the Cape St. George water supply area. So removing twelve turbines doesn’t sound like a lot, but it does have enough of an effect. Where else are we going to put those turbines? Where can we put them to keep the power supply that we require? So that requires a layout change of the entire peninsula, really, and we’re doing that right now. And keeping in mind that we have to do it within the parameters that we did it originally, and that is to stay 1 km away from any residences, stay out of the watershed, stay out of the water supply areas, stay out of the wetlands, stay out of the rare plants, limestone barrens, habitats and that sort of stuff.” This is called ‘constraints mapping’ and is not uncommon for projects on this scale. “We take everything that we’ve identified as a sensitivity and try to stay away from it and stay within the 1 km buffer from residences. So that’s the work that’s undergoing right now. Another one of the comments from the government was to ensure that the water supply that we’re using is sustainable and that it doesn’t have any impact on northern harvest operations,” said Pinsent. “So we’re doing — and Dr. Gale is helping us — is more of that modeling to demonstrate that there’s adequate supply for the long term life of the project. Another comment was a request for more detail on how we’re going to use that water that we’re taking and how much of it is going to be used for cooling water versus hydrogen production, for example. How much of that is going to be wastewater and what is that wastewater going to be comprised of? What is the chemistry of that water that we’re going to be discharging into the ocean? So we’re doing that work as well. On land, there are some requirements to identify where the batch plant locations are for the concrete production that’s required for the turbine foundations. They want to know specifically the locations for the batch plant so they can ensure that we’re not impacting the water supplies or any sensitive habitats or sensitive species around. So we’ve got that ready to go back to them.” Construction materials were also a concern for the government. “Another big question was about the amount of material that we’re going to need for road construction. Where is that material going to come from? Are we going to need new quarries or is it going to be using existing quarries? And we need to provide more detail on that and sort of quantity, how much material we’re going to generate from the road construction itself, and then how much of that material can we use in the road building,” said Pinsent. The company is hoping to have the EIS submitted this month. Kevin Boudreau, Director of Engineering at World Energy GH2, spoke about the amendments. “We submitted the application to NavCan for all the turbine locations. They govern the overall height above sea level that you can build relative to the airport in Stephenville. They’ve approved in particular the height of all the turbines, but with the exception of a number of turbines that were on the Tabletop Mountain as a function of the proximity to the radar. So there’s a relatively new radar that’s up there, and they wanted us to maintain a five-kilometer buffer to that. So there’s a number of those turbines that are now pulled out from that as well. So that’s now gone. The isthmus crossing, for me, is probably one of the bigger changes that we’ve done.” There are a couple of plans World Energy has for the isthmus crossing. “The reason the subsea cable was featured as the preliminary option originally is we were precluded to really engage with both Hydro and Newfoundland Power during both the Crown land process and prior to EIS submission, so talking to NL Power about what’s the best way for us to get across the isthmus, given that you’ve got a 69kv line that is on the southern part,” explained Boudreau. “To mitigate that risk, we’re going to plan two options. A northern route across the isthmus — it’s a little bit more expensive per kilometre — but the basis of design will plan for a subsea cable. Through discussions with Newfoundland Power, they’ve suggested a preferred option for us to go parallel to their 69kv line that is running on the south side of the isthmus, on the south side of that pond. So it is their preference that we use that, we parallel to their route. It’s the best from their perspective, and we like that routing. So we are writing that into the resubmission as a possible option. So the cable won’t go away entirely as an option because I want to have a Plan C in the event Plan A or Plan B doesn’t work.” Another significant change is the removal of one of their planned marine landing sites. “The intent is with the wind turbine components, the heavy ones in particular, shipping them to Stephenville and driving them through to Port au Port, we want to avoid that. So the intent of the marine landing sites was to give us direct transport for the large, heavy wind turbine components. So there were two original marine landing sites planned: one in West Bay and one in Agathuna. Through our consultation here over 2023, there were some concerns from residents on the West Bay location and private land issues and concerns. So we’ve looked at our logistics study and what would be the impact to cost budget of dropping that marine landing site and just focusing on Agathuna? It’s a little bit more travel inland for us, but we looked at that logistics study, and we can manage with the one site,” said Boudreau. “So to mitigate any of the concern about the West Bay landing site, it’s gone from the design basis. We’re going to strike that and focus on Agathuna and the lay down area that we hope will be available there for the wind turbine components traffic management study.” For the transportation of the heavier materials, Main Gut Bridge was mentioned by the government as an area of concern, not knowing in the bridge could handle the weight of these components. “We’ve engaged with an engineering firm to do a study on Main Gut Bridge and whether it’ll take two of the heavier components, in particular, the gearbox, and some of the lower sections of the tower,” said Boudreau. “So what we’re going to do now is amend that to have another alternate, which is to bring those up from Port Aux Basques in the event that the engineering study says that Main Gut Bridge can’t take the heavy components.”

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