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Second green hydrogen plant approved in Nova Scotia


When Canada promised to export clean hydrogen to Germany by 2025, many eyes turned to the east coast.

“It's because Atlantic Canada has tremendous renewable energy resources that are untapped,” said Elisa Obermann, the executive director of Marine Renewables Canada. “Onshore wind. Lots of offshore wind. Even tidal energy that could be used to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia.”

The same wind that often knocks out the region’s power can be used to create fuel and right now there's a global race to capture the wind and harness it to make hydrogen.

Obermann said Atlantic Canada is well-positioned.

“We are in very close proximity to Europe compared to some regions that are looking at green hydrogen but we also have ports,” she said.

As of March 23, Newfoundland and Labrador had received 19 bids for Crown land for wind-hydrogen development.

Nova Scotia's Department of Environment and Climate Change has already approved two large-scale green hydrogen and ammonia projects along the Strait of Canso.

In February, Nova Scotia approved EverWind Fuels’ proposal to create a green hydrogen and ammonia production facility in Point Tupper, N.S.

This week, the province approved Bear Head Energy’s plan to build a hydrogen production, storage and loading facility in Point Tupper where it had previously planned to build a liquefied natural gas plant.

“We were approved for two gigawatts of installed electrolyser capacity, which is a very significant project,” said Paul MacLean, managing director of Bear Head Energy.

At its peak, the project could produce 350,000 tonnes of hydrogen and 2 million tonnes of ammonia a year.

Wind turbines will fuel the process of electrolysis that will split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can be converted into ammonia for easier shipping to Europe and possibly Asia.

“Our goal is to be in commercial operation in 2028 and we think that's a reasonable time frame given the complexity of the project such as ours,” said MacLean.

Canada’s latest federal budget introduced major tax credits for hydrogen projects, which MacLead applauded.

The environmental assessment approval comes with conditions, including the need for Bear Head to submit a site water plan and how it would store and handle oxygen, mitigate hydrogen emissions and dispose of sludges or other waste.

“Our motto as a team, as a project, is that our focus is always on safety over speed and we’re very much committed to working with the province,” said MacLean.

Brenna Walsh, energy coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, is surprised by the speed at which the projects are being approved and is also concerned about the amount of land needed.

“There will be a significant tracts of land that will be needed for building wind farms,” Walsh said, noting that some of the land used is Crown land.

Walsh said Nova Scotia does need to build out a significant amount of renewable energy to serve Nova Scotia’s grid to phase out coal by 2030 and be able to replace a lot of that capacity with renewables.

She said she would rather see the province be a little bit more strategic and thinking about where those wind turbines will be placed to help Nova Scotia’s grid.

“And for the development and growth of that grid as we move towards electrification of other sectors, which is definitely one of the goals of the province as well as the country,” Walsh said. Top Stories

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