By Jaymie White
Journalist of the Local Journalism Initiative
WEST COAST – On Friday August 5, Bernard Davis, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced that an Environmental Impact Assessment is required for the Port au Port Wind Power and Hydrogen Project -Stephenville (Nujio’qonik GH2 Project) proposed by World Energy GH2 Inc. and an environmental assessment committee has been appointed. Additional information is required, including the following:
• Confirmation of proposed final locations for wind turbines, worker accommodation, offices, explosive storage facilities, access roads, power lines and substations
• Identification of land use overlaps with protected areas, private lands, mining operations, mining permits and leases, and recreational and traditional land uses
• Potential effects on flora and fauna in the project area
• Confirmation of proposed primary and secondary water sources and hydrological modeling to determine sustainability of yield, quality and effect on other local users
• Baseline geological information to support planned storage/sequestration of chemicals produced over the life of the project, including CO2 and ammonia
The Environmental Assessment Committee was appointed to provide scientific and technical advice to the Minister and to provide guidelines for the preparation of the environmental impact statement.
Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose said it was part of the necessary due diligence on behalf of the government, but feels it is still important not to have major delays due to bureaucracy.
“The most important thing for me is that as a country, as a province, we are stepping in to solve a global energy crisis. It was created, in a sense, out of the war in Ukraine, out of reliance on Russian crude. So if anything, I would push to not let bureaucracy slow us down. This is a green project. It’s an energy crisis. This is supported by the federal authorities. It’s G7. It is sovereignty. It’s NATO. It is about countries working together. The only message I would give is to do your due diligence, but don’t let bureaucracy be bureaucracy,” Rose said. “If there is one project that should be able to have a faster approach, it would be a green project. There is no doubt about it. But since it is such a large-scale project, it is the decision of the government.
Rose said Canada is not alone in embarking on green hydrogen projects and if things slow down too much, the delays could have a significant impact. The requirement for an environmental impact statement will come as a relief to local residents who have raised concerns about the proposed project and the negative impacts it could have on residents of the peninsula, as well as the environment and the wildlife, but Rose believes the benefits far outweigh the pitfalls.
“With every industry there is the good, the bad and the ugly. If you have a nuclear power plant, if you have an oil refinery, if you have a wind farm, everything is put into perspective, but if you were to choose one out of three, we would choose wind farms because it’s a green, non-emissions farm It’s the safest type of industry we would want for our families, our citizens and our communities to thrive both on both economically and socially, it’s so important.
Rose said the platforms for the wind turbines will occupy less than five hectares, or 12.5 acres, and that’s a small footprint compared to the Flat Bay Gypsum Mine or the Lower Cove.
“To build a road in a site, we build forest roads every day. All you have to do is drive from here to Corner Brook or Gallants to see what Kreuger is up to. They operate logging roads, cut down forests. They do that. But, outside of the roads, the footprint of this project is very, very small,” Rose said. “Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we are hunters, fishers, berry gatherers. We use forest roads for our recreation, for our getaways, for our snowmobiles, for our wood collection, so having an infrastructure of roads that come in will benefit residents of Port au Port, the Highlands or the Stephenville area. I am a big supporter and promoter of this project.
Rose said the location of these turbines is also extremely important, so the idea of moving them to a more central location would not be as profitable.
“You have more capital expenditure to build roads. You have a longer transmission, and then you’re going to take them from the best wind corridor, maybe in the world, at least in North America. The work has been done, the engineering has been done to say where they can go. Can they move a little? Absolutely. A little, but they can’t get away from the Wind Corridor.
Rose spent time in several provinces during the summer and said everywhere he went he saw wind farms.
“They are clean, they are white, they are noiseless new technology wind turbines. If you were to just stop in your house for a minute and listen, you’re going to hear your refrigerator. It makes noise, and if you are 100 meters away from these turbines, they make the same noise as your refrigerator. If you’re further away, you don’t hear those turbines,” Rose said. “When you think of the 124 wind turbines on the peninsula, this big piece of geography, this big land mass, it’s not like they’re all in one area. It’s a great project for us and it’s going to put Stephenville, Port au Port, Bay St. George on the map. It will give us an economic stimulus. It’s going to keep families together, and it’s going to change the way we make a living and raise our families.
Rose said the jobs that will come to the area as a result will be well-paying jobs that will attract workers.
“We are talking now, there are direct jobs and there are multiplier jobs. Over the next five to seven years, we’re going to have 1,000 to 1,500 people working directly. It’s not the indirect jobs. They will grow. When the project is finished, you will have a hydrogen plant that could employ as much as Abitibi Price, up to 300 people, but then because all this new industry came here and attracted other industries, do you know how many permanent jobs are going to be here? »
Recent announcements have revealed that areas like St. Georges and the South West Coast have also been approached by companies wanting to invest in green power generation in the province, and Rose called the news fantastic.
“There was a lot of work. Millions have been spent, but this has identified what we have. So to make a multi-billion dollar investment, we have all the boxes to tick. We have the contiguity of the location with Europe, the market. We have international airports, international ports, one of the best weather records in the country and the biggest tick, we have the best wind,” Rose said. “The more that can happen in other places, St. Georges, Port Aux Basques, it will benefit this city, Bay St. George, the Port au Port area, because we’re going to have economic sustainability.
Atlas Salt also made an announcement that the Fischell’s Brook salt deposit in the Bay St. George sub-basin is exceeding expectations, which Rose says will only serve well with the wind development project.
“It’s a huge salt pan and I really hope it starts to drive the investment forward and drive the business plan forward.” This is another important job creation project. It also has advantages for green hydrogen because salt domes are not permeable, so once the salt is removed the caverns can actually be used to store hydrogen. It goes hand in hand and having that salt dome potential – it has to be mined first and it has to be sold – but if that happens it can be very beneficial for that hydrogen wind project.
Confirmation has also been made that major political figures will soon travel to Stephenville for talks.
“Word is officially out there that there is a planned visit for the German Chancellor to Stephenville with the Prime Minister. The firm date and time are still unconfirmed, but it is potentially a few weeks away. C “It’s so exciting for me because this is a global, international, head of state visit to Stephenville, Newfoundland. It’s never happened at this level,” Rose said.
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News