'Hydrogen alliance' formed as Canada, Germany sign agreement on exports
Canada plans to export hydrogen by 2025
Canada has agreed to help Germany with its energy crunch, although few details of exactly how the two countries will work together were provided during a ceremony in Stephenville, N.L., on Tuesday.
Instead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed what they called a "joint declaration of intent" that calls on the two countries to invest in hydrogen, establish a "transatlantic Canada-Germany supply corridor" and start exporting hydrogen by 2025. Trudeau called it a historic moment.
"We must look to resources like hydrogen which can and will be clean and renewable. We can be the reliable supplier of clean energy a net-zero world needs," Trudeau said.
"The need for clean energy is almost limitless, and that's where Canada, and Atlantic Canada specifically, gets to step up. With our renewable resources, we have a huge advantage."
Scholz, accompanied by a contingent of leaders of Germany's largest companies, including Bayer and Volkswagen, has been touring Canada this week to drum up energy sources that are alternatives to Russian natural gas.
The agreement, which Trudeau called the "Canada-Germany hydrogen alliance," was signed in a town where a company plans to build a large plant to convert wind energy to hydrogen and export ammonia to Europe. But the World Energy GH2 project — which would include 164 wind turbines along the nearby Port au Port Peninsula — has yet to undergo provincial environmental approval, and residents were told about it only in meetings that started in June.
Under the agreement, Canada will export wind-generated hydrogen to Germany as that country looks to move away from Russian imports. While the Ukrainian war has made for an immediate crisis, Germany has also been shopping for long-term sustainable solutions.
"Our vision of the future and our shared aims are clear. Canadians and Germans and all our friends around the world look forward to good jobs, a strong economy and pure air," said Trudeau.
"We cannot as a world continue to rely on authoritarian countries that will weaponize energy policy as Russia is, that don't concern themselves with environmental outcomes, or labour rights or even human rights."
Canada hopes to export Canadian-made hydrogen within three years.
Scholz said the German coast cannot keep up with the same wind conditions found in Newfoundland and Labrador, making the province an ideal location for hydrogen production.
He said hydrogen will play a major role in Germany's future energy supply, especially in industries that are hard to decarbonize, such as shipping and aviation.
"Germany expects a need of 90 to 110 terawatt-hours of hydrogen in 2030," Scholz said.
"We believe that Atlantic Canada presents a huge opportunity for us but also for Canada to contribute to a green energy transition. Canada is a close and like-minded partner in the energy transition."
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said building wind farms in his province "just makes sense."
The premier said N.L. had already engaged in "positive discussions" with Hamburg ahead of Tuesday's ceremony regarding a declaration of intent on hydrogen. He said he hopes to sign the declaration at a wind conference in Hamburg in September.
"Hamburg's ambition to be a hydrogen hub for northern Europe, and our goal to be the same for Canada, make it an ideal partnership," Furey said.
Wind projects proposed for N.L.
The Port au Port project is already making its way through the red tape in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Situated on Newfoundland's west coast — about 15 kilometres west of Stephenville — the peninsula is the proposed site for a wind farm operation that would make Stephenville the home of a plant that will turn hydrogen produced from windmills into ammonia.
World Energy GH2, the company behind the proposal, expects the Port au Port operation to produce hydrogen by mid-2024. The project is going through an environmental impact statement process that the company, according to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, has a three-year window to complete.
The operation would be the first of its kind in the province and is expected to create 1,800 direct construction jobs, 300 direct operations jobs and 3,500 indirect jobs, according to a media release issued by the company on Monday.
However, since that project's announcement, some area residents and environmental groups have been raising concerns.
On Tuesday dozens lined the street near the Stephenville airport beginning at 10 a.m. NT in protest of Canada-Germany declaration, chanting and waving signs with slogans like "Newfoundland Is Not For Sale."
Marilyn Rowe of the Environmental Transparency Committee, formed in response to the Port au Port wind farm and hydrogen proposal, said peninsula residents are "guinea pigs."
"We don't want to have this in our backyards so we are here protesting today because this deal is moving at lightning speed," Rowe said while waiting for the dignitaries' planes to touch down.
As enthusiastic as Canada is to move forward with hydrogen and clean energy projects, Trudeau said, the federal government wants to make sure they're done right.
"Yes, we will have a rigorous process by which these projects are approved but I am extremely optimistic about the future we are building together," he said.
A second project was proposed by Fortescue Future Industries, a subsidiary of the Australia Fortescue Metals Group based in Australia. FFI signed a memorandum of understanding with the Miawpukek First Nation on Monday for a feasibility study of a project that would produce green fuels on Newfoundland's southwest coast using sea water and wind turbines.