POINT TUPPER: A provincial environmental organization says it is disappointed to hear EverWind Fuels will be using a fossil fuel to operate their green hydrogen production facility in Point Tupper.
“That is something we were definitely disappointed to hear. This project has had a lot of media coverage in the last few months and it’s quite confusing to work through how the different phases of the project will work,” Brenna Walsh, Ecology Action Centre’s (EAC) energy coordinator told The Reporter in an interview Nov. 7. “It looks like with this, and maybe some of the other developments being considered for hydrogen export in Nova Scotia, there seems to be an onshore phase and an offshore phase, but it’s quite confusing to follow.”
Walsh suggested the question around using coal doesn’t really make any sense, in terms of the environmental goals domestically, but also in terms of the global perspective.
“It’s something we’re disappointed in directly,” she said. “I’m personally left with a lot of questions, when considering this project.”
According to a joint investigation that was featured in an Oct. 26 article in The Guardian, a British daily newspaper that was founded in 1821, the project, which is being promoted by EverWind as converting wind-generated electricity into green hydrogen, will actually be powered by coal, at the start of the project.
EverWind has taken over the former NuStar location in Point Tupper and will operate under two phases, Phase 1 is scheduled to begin in 2025 and will convert hydrogen into 200,000 tonnes of green ammonia that year alone.
The company’s CEO, Trent Vichie has previously described green hydrogen as being the “Swiss army knife of renewable energy” as it’s created by running electricity through water that breaks the water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The process is often used to make ammonia; something Vichie advised is used to lift the production of agriculture roughly by two times.
The Guardian article states that in order for this to happen, that will require 757,000 litres of water a day from nearby Landrie Lake, or two per cent of the lake’s capacity.
Phase 2, which would come into play in 2026, would see EverWind produce one million tonnes of green ammonia a year to export to Europe.
“Something I haven’t seen as much, but is sort of an interesting point, is specifics about what is accepted on the European market, in terms of green hydrogen,” Walsh said. “I think they’re developing quite strict rules and regulations about what they will accept as an import; so it will be interesting to dig into and see some more of that detail, and see when they would actually be able to export hydrogen that they could sell to Europe.”
Her initial concerns surround if EverWind would even be able to sell the hydrogen produced if it potentially comes from a grid powered by a fossil fuel source.
“In terms of offshore wind as a use for hydrogen export, our position is that, it would be best if the wind generated would be used in the domestic market,” Walsh said. “As we don’t have a pathway towards zero-carbon electricity.”
Not speaking for the community in particular, she believes really strong consultation and transparency with the community is really important from their perspective for any renewable development.
“Thinking about involving the community in dsicussions from the beginning,” Wash said. “The fact that the company isn’t being transparent with the community is something we’re definitely disappointed to see.”
When asked about the recent news a green hydrogen project will be using coal to generate power, the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables told The Reporter Nova Scotia is on the verge of becoming a world leader in the development of green hydrogen, with both economic and environmental benefits.
“There is lots of interest in the business community to set up operations in Nova Scotia and it will take time for them to get fully established,” a spokesperson for the department said. “The global market is demanding green hydrogen so to be successful as an exporter, a company would need to secure a renewable energy source.”
The EverWind project is just one of two green hydrogen developers looking to take advantage of exporting from within the Strait area, as Buckeye Partners is also developing a large-scale green hydrogen and ammonia production, storage, and export project in Point Tupper, where the former Bear Head LNG project once stood.
Ken Summers, who was a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition and part of Ecojustice with EAC, is now EverWind’s environmental affairs advisor. He declined The Reporter’s request for an interview and also wasn’t able to provide a written statement prior to publication.