Newfoundland and Labrador has invited four companies to seek permits to develop wind-hydrogen facilities on Crown land, a move that marks another big milestone since the province lifted a 15-year wind development ban this spring—and supports its ambitions to export green fuel globally.
“This is a transformative industry for Atlantic Canada,” said Nova Scotia-based billionaire John Risley, pointing to wind as a long-term replacement for the fossil fuel industry.
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Risley, a director of World Energy—one of the four companies on the invitation list—added that Newfoundland and offshore Nova Scotia have world-class wind resources, with “huge opportunity” in exploiting them.
The three other companies are EverWind Fuels, Exploits Valley Renewable Energy Corporation, and Toqlukuti’k Wind and Hydrogen. Each of the firms will receive wind application recommendation letters that are not a green light to begin construction, reports CBC, but will allow them to proceed through the province’s Crown land application process.
Provincial Energy Minister Andrew Parsons called the decision a “significant milestone” in moving the hydrogen/ammonia sector along.
The province’s vast potential for wind energy production had been left unexploited due to the moratorium in place since 2007. The measure was initially meant to protect development of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, but was lifted in April after the province reviewed its renewable energy policy.
Now, wind energy from the new projects will be used to produce green hydrogen or ammonia, which is expected to be exported to Europe through the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance. Proponents say the projects will boost the economy and add new jobs. Estimates show project lifespans of 35 to 40 years from construction through decommissioning, and Parsons said the work will generate roughly C$206.2 billion in GDP and $11.7 billion in revenue for the province, with peak full-time employment of 11,694 jobs.
But some of the proposals have already garnered public criticism. World Energy’s Project Nujio’Qonik at Port-au-Port has been contested by locals who renewed their activism after the recent provincial announcement. They say there’s been insufficient research on the project’s size and scale and its potential impacts on communities and the environment.
“What we feared last year is coming true,” said Marilyn Rowe of Sheaves Cove. “These turbines are going to be over 600 feet in height.”
Rowe said the project will use Siemens offshore turbines that have never before been installed on mountaintops, so “there is no knowledge or history or data available to tell us what the effects are going to be.”
World Energy has submitted an environment impact assessment for its plans, which await provincial approval. Meanwhile, a group of citizens, with support from the Miawpukek First Nation at Conne River, has called for a federal review the project.