World Energy GH2 is proposing to build 328 wind turbines in western Newfoundland in order to power a hydrogen and ammonia plant. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
A proposal that would see hundreds of windmills erected on Newfoundland's west coast and a hydrogen plant is back before the provincial government, along with new details provided in response to the government's request for more information.
Proponent John Risley is optimistic it's clear sailing ahead for his company's plans.
"We accepted the obligation we had to respond to those issues with the information that was requested," Risley told CBC News, who is the company's chairman.
"This is exactly what we've done here. We think we've responded in a comprehensive manner to the government's requests and obviously," he said, "they'll now review those responses."
As part of Project Nujio'qonik, World Energy GH2 is looking to build at least 328 wind turbines on the Port au Port Peninsula and in the Codroy Valley, and a hydrogen-ammonia plant in western Newfoundland.
In late October, Environment and Climate Change Minister Bernard Davis said the province needed more information from World Energy GH2's environmental assessment submission before it could decide on the future of the proposed wind energy project.
The new impact statement was submitted and released Tuesday. The period for public consultation on the new impact statement is now open and ends March 20. Davis is scheduled to give a decision by April 9.
Risley says he's hopeful they will get the provincial government's stamp of approval this time around, adding the company is confident they've addressed all of the government's questions.
"Obviously the government's review will determine that."
Risley also confirmed World Energy GH2 still expects to be producing hydrogen by the end of 2025 and ammonia in early 2026 at its plant in Stephenville.
Fuel for thought
The 513-page impact statement — as well as a few hundreds of pages of additional appendices — details various changes and upgrades to earlier submitted plans.
For instance, the Port au Port wind farm is being reduced, with 155 turbines instead of 171.
The company has also detailed its plans for 50 megawatts of standby auxiliary backup power for its plant, needed for periods of low wind power production. It's considering either reciprocating engines or gas turbines to power an electrical generator, with documents noting both options use renewable fuel.
"The backup power prime-mover will likely be dual-fuel and able to use hydrogen or ammonia as an alternate fuel source in addition to other renewable fuel options under consideration. Currently, there are dual-fuel prime-mover options commercially available," says the new statement.
There's also an update on accommodations for employees. Initially, the company planned to establish a camp to house 1,200 to 1,500 people within the Stephenville airport perimeter.
World Energy GH2 chairman John Risley says he's optimistic the company's second impact statement will get the government's approval. (Dan Arsenault/CBC)
However, after discussions with the town revealed the local wastewater treatment facility doesn't have the capacity to handle all those additional people, the company plans to install its own waste treatment facility at the campsite.
One concern raised by the provincial government was that World Energy GH2 hadn't shown it had secured the necessary power from N.L. Hydro's electrical grid.
In October, CBC News reported the company was looking to tap into the province's power grid and draw as much as 155 megawatts, which it will have to pay for if the move is approved.
According to documents, discussions to purchase N.L. Hydro power have been happening since mid-2022.
World Energy GH2 is interesting in tapping into N.L. Hydro's grid through its existing Stephenville Terminal Station. (World Energy GH2)
"N.L. Hydro has provided WEGH2 feedback and technical guidance to help ensure its plans are compatible with what N.L. Hydro indicatively believes will be acceptable for the grid interconnection. As part of this process, N.L. Hydro advised WEGH2 of the requirement to complete a system impact study, which has subsequently commenced," it stated.
The planned point to tap into the N.L. Hydro grid is the Stephenville Terminal Station.
CBC News asked Davis for an interview. Department spokesperson Marium Oishee replied by email, writing that during the 50-day public consultation period, the impact statement will be reviewed by an environmental assessment committee made up of representatives from a number of federal and provincial government departments.
"The minister will consider all public comments and scientific, technical, and regulatory advice from the committee and will determine if the documents submitted meet the requirements of the (environmental impact statement) guidelines and the minister's letter of October 31, 2023," Oishee wrote.