Nfld. & Labrador

Beothuk Energy lands European backer for wind farm on west coast

A proposal for an offshore wind farm in western Newfoundland is getting a financial boost by an international company.

St. George's Bay, near Stephenville, eyed as 180-megawatt site

This animation shows what the wind farm in St. George's Bay could look like. (Submitted)

The company that hopes to build a wind farm on the west coast of Newfoundland has landed Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) as a financial backer.

"We see significant potential for offshore wind in Atlantic Canada," said Christina Grumstrup Sørensen, senior partner at CIP.

Beothuk Energy, which is based in Newfoundland, is the other half of the partnership.

"[CIP] are really world leaders in offshore wind development and also have the financial capabilities to get our project over the finish line," said Beothuk Energy CEO Kirby Mercer.

'World-class wind'

The plan is to develop, own and operate several offshore wind farms in Atlantic Canada, Mercer said, with the 180-megawatt St. George's Bay project proposed to be the first site.

Kirby Mercer, CEO of Beothuk Energy, says Newfoundland and Labrador's world-class wind means the province could be a leader in the energy sector. (CBC/Katie Breen)

"First of all, we got world-class wind," said Mercer.

"And we have all the other things we're looking for for offshore wind. We have shallow water, we're close to transmission and we're close to the world's largest energy market — the United States."

Mercer said the future of the energy sector is in offshore wind and Newfoundland has an "opportunity" to lead that charge.

We think we can work with Nalcor … Wind and hydro work really well together.- Kirby Mercer

"There are so many synergies between offshore wind and the offshore oil and gas sector," he said.

"We have those skills sets here in Atlantic Canada and we have a lot of underutilized infrastructure, like ports, that are key to developing this space."

Wind, hydro as comrades, not competitors

Mercer believes the two different power sources can have a symbiotic relationship in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Beothuk Energy announced a partnership with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners to build and operate wind farms in Atlantic Canada, including one in St. George's Bay, near Stephenville. (Courtesy Beothuk Energy)

"We think we can work with Nalcor," he said.

"The beauty about offshore wind, if you look at the Newfoundland system, they have a lot of hydro. Wind and hydro work really well together."

When asked if it will be difficult for the offshore wind projects to proceed without Nalcor's permission, Mercer insisted "that's not necessarily true."

"There is open access in the Newfoundland system in the grid, there is space in the Maritime Link," he said.

"We still think there is opportunity to wield some power in the province. And we've been having discussions with Nalcor and the Newfoundland government in regards to that."

Mercer says construction on the St. George's Bay project could start in 2019.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show