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The answer is blowing in the wind: Miawpukek First Nation ready to hype hydrogen as German chancellor arrives in Port au Port


Posted by Peter Jackon on Saltwire

PORT AU PORT, N.L. — On Tuesday, Aug. 23, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Stephenville on the Port au Port Peninsula to help kick off one of the most ambitious green hydrogen projects in the world to date.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also in town with a delegation of 70 people — including CEOs of top German industries such as Bayer and Volkswagen — to sign an accord committing to purchase Canadian green hydrogen, although details have not yet been released.

The Port au Port project by World Energy GH2 will be a boon for the Qalipu First Nation, but it isn’t the only game in town.

An Indigenous group from another part of the island is also getting in on the action, and signed a separate deal Monday for the production of as much as 700,000 to 900,000 tonnes of green ammonia annually from wind turbines.

Hydrogen is converted to ammonia for transport to markets because it has a higher energy density.

The term “green” simply refers to the way they are produced, i.e. through non-emissions mean such as hydro and wind energy.

Coast of propellers

World Energy GH2, a subsidiary of World Energy which is chaired by Nova Scotia billionaire John Risley, has named the Port au Port development Project Nujio'qonik, when means “where the sand blows” in the Qalipu language.

The company says green hydrogen can be used to drive de-carbonization in hard-to-abate sectors such as steelmaking, aviation and agriculture.

The project is expected to deliver 1,800 direct construction jobs, 300 direct operations jobs and 3,500 indirect jobs.

By the end of three phases of development, the local coastline will be dotted with 164 giant wind turbines that are expected to produce three megawatts of power and will drive the production of 1.4 million metric tonnes of ammonia annually.

The company, a consortium of four Canadian partners, says Project Nujio’qonik will include associated transmission and supporting infrastructure to power a 0.5-GW hydrogen/ammonia production facility in the Port of Stephenville.

Germany had already decided to transition away from its reliance on Russian oil and gas, but the war in Ukraine has created a more urgent need for alternative sources of fuel.

However, it’s not clear how much of a dent the west coast project would put in Germany’s required inventory, and production is not expected to start for another two years.

The project has also divided the local community, with many lamenting that their pristine coastal landscape will be scarred by dozens of turbines.

But Risley said Monday he’s optimistic for the success of the project, which is not receiving any government funding.

“We’re negotiating a number of contracts with what are known in the industry as off-takers,” he told The Telegram. “We’ve got lots of interest and we’re very optimistic about the prospects of signing a favourable contract provided we can get energy into the market when we say we can, which is late 2024 or early 2025.”

And he said there’s plenty of room for competition.

“There’s a lot of potential in the area, thanks to the wind, and the potential isn’t limited to Argentia or the Burin Peninsula, or the area around Port Aux Basques or Stephenville. There is potential beyond that, and that’s what’s so exciting.”

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