Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. may already have a buyer for hydrogen produced by proposed wind farm project

A wind farm project on Newfoundland's west coast slated to produce green hydrogen-energy in a plant in Stephenville already has interest from an overseas buyer. 

N.L. has everything it needs to be a force in the market, says Energy Minister Andrew Parsons

Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson speaking into a microphone during an industry conference in St. John's, N.L.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says Germany is interested in buying hydrogen energy developed in Canada. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada)

A wind farm project on Newfoundland's west coast slated to produce green hydrogen energy in a plant in Stephenville already has interest from an overseas buyer. 

The project, proposed to be constructed on the Port au Port Peninsula, has yet to pass its environmental assessment but a decision from the provincial government is expected by Aug. 5.

On Friday, federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and provincial Energy Minister Andrew Parsons attended an energy and mines conference in St. John's.

"Canada has been a bit slow with respect to wind development relative to Europe. The technology is proven. It's simply an issue of putting the package together in a manner that you can create cost-effective hydrogen," Wilkinson told reporters after the conference. 

"We know with fact that Europe is going to need to import significant quantities of hydrogen. We are very proximate from a transportation perspective to be able to move hydrogen, likely in the form of ammonia. So I would say I think Newfoundland and Labrador is extremely well positioned."

Wilkinson said there's potential within the province for several hydrogen-energy project developments. Hydrogen can be made with water and wind energy, then exported for use as a power carrier.

He said there are more than a dozen interested developers, some with more experience, more developed plans and deeper pockets than others and Europe in particular is interested in moving away from its dependency on oil — Russian oil in particular.

Germany is among those looking to further the use of hydrogen energy for its cities. 

Wilkinson said German officials will be travelling to Ottawa this summer to look at what Canada can offer.

Energy Minister Andrew Parsons speaks at a conference in St. John's.
Provincial Energy Minister Andrew Parsons says conversations are ongoing within government about moving forward in the wind and hydrogen energy industry. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada)

"The folks that we deal with, particularly our friends in Europe, see Canada as an emerging powerhouse in the context of the global transition because we have all of the things that they need," he said. 

"They need hydrogen but they can't produce it domestically in sufficient quantities. We actually have enormous opportunities for that." 

A force in the market

Parsons said there have been meetings in government about moving forward in the wind and hydrogen sectors. He said there are also conversations with proponents and interested buyers. 

But, right now, conversations are the only things happening. 

"Hopefully in the very, very near future we're going to see a little more on that, but there's no secret about Europe's desire to move away from current energy sources and we will play a role in that going forward," said Parsons.

"There's still a lot to be figured out when it comes to hydrogen, but the reality is that we have everything necessary here in this province to make us a force when it comes to that market."

Wilkinson said Canada has "active working groups" with Germany and the European Union on hydrogen and liquefied natural gas. 

He said they're in regular contact. 

"It is a very active conversation and they are certainly very interested in advancing it," Wilkinson said. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Patrick Butler

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